Preview: Rays aim to extend win streak in season’s penultimate game
TV: FOX Sports Sun
Time: Pregame coverage begins at 5:30 p.m.
ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — It goes as little more than a footnote in what is ultimately a disappointing season, but Tampa Bay Rays third baseman Evan Longoria put himself in elite company with his 20th home run in Friday’s win against the Baltimore Orioles.
Longoria has hit at least 20 home runs nine times in 10 years — the only other third baseman ever to do that was Hall of Famer Eddie Mathews, every year from 1952-65.
For teammates struggling to deal with a season of missed opportunities, Longoria still stands as a model for consistency, even when he’s enduring a down season by his own high standards.
“He’s someone I look up to, just the way he goes about his business, day in and day out,” Rays first baseman Logan Morrison said. “He would probably say this is one of the worst years he’s ever had, but yet he’s leading the team in RBIs. I think if you ask anybody in here who you’d want up with the game on the line, you’d want him.”
Longoria’s home run ended an 0-for-21 slump — his nine seasons with 20-plus home runs are five more than any other player in team history.
The Rays will hope to continue a late-season upswing in Saturday’s game against the Orioles.
The Rays will get one final start from right-hander Chris Archer, who has struggled to a 9-12 record and 4.18 ERA, higher even than last year, when he lost 19 games. On Sunday against the same Orioles team in Baltimore, he gave up four runs on five hits in the first inning, lasting only 3 2/3 frames and giving up six runs on eight hits.
Archer has lost five straight decisions for the first time in more than a year — he’s 0-5 with a 9.72 ERA in September. Against the Orioles, he’s now 4-8 with a 5.08 ERA for his career, and has allowed at least five runs in all three starts against Baltimore this season.
Baltimore will give reliever Miguel Castro (3-2, 3.29 ERA) his first start of the season as something of an audition for next year’s rotation. Castro has pitched well against the Rays, with a 2.00 ERA in nine innings over five games, but he’s struggled of late.
Castro has allowed runs in each of his last six appearances, all in relief, with an 8.10 ERA over his last 10 appearances. He’s still only 22, and has been one of the Orioles’ most active relievers in the second half of the season.
“We’re not swinging the bats very well,” manager Buck Showalter said after Friday’s loss. “It’s been obvious for a while here. It’s that time of year, September, where we get a lot of different looks. … I’m going to give (the Rays) credit. They pitched well.”