The Tampa Bay Rays’ first road trip should be deemed a success. They won all but two of a seven-game jaunt against the Miami Marlins and Toronto Blue Jays. They used strong pitching and an offense that has surprised early to fly back home pleased with where they stand through 10 games.
Quick, did you have the Rays posting a 6-4 record after their opening series against the Baltimore Orioles? Did you have them not only surviving their litany of pitching injuries but making gains within the American League East in the process?
Bully for you, if so. It was hard to imagine the development with so many unknowns.
Give credit where it’s due. Right-handers Chris Archer and Jake Odorizzi have proved to be stable cornerstones of this temporary rotation. Right-hander Nathan Karns has been solid as well. Right-hander Erasmo Ramirez appears to be the only glaring weak spot at the moment.
Meanwhile, the Rays’ bats have provided a welcome burst. Steven Souza Jr. has shown power. Tim Beckham has done damage too. Kevin Kiermaier has been a consistent hitter. Desmond Jennings has displayed speed on the base pads.
In recent days gone by, Tampa Bay gained valuable momentum on the road. This weekend, against the New York Yankees, the Rays will try to keep the fire alive.
Here’s a look at the upcoming Rays-Yankees series …
Jacoby Ellsbury (Yankees): He hit .292 (7 for 24) with a double in five games from April 10-15. He had at least one hit in each contest in the span, and he cracked two hits in a pair of those games, on April 10 against the Boston Red Sox and on April 13 against the Baltimore Orioles. He has hit .286 this season.
Kevin Kiermaier (Rays): He hit .348 (8 for 23) with one home run and two RBI in seven games from April 10-16. He had three contests in the span with two hits each. He has hit .344 with two home runs and four RBI this season.
Garrett Jones (Yankees): He hit .154 (2 for 13) with four strikeouts in five games from April 10-15. He was held hitless in three contests in the span. He has hit .154 this season.
Allan Dykstra (Rays): He hit .077 (1 for 13) with three strikeouts in six games from April 10-16. His lone hit in the span came on a single during a victory over the Blue Jays on April 13. He has hit .071 this season.
5: Victories by the Rays on their most recent seven-game road trip to Miami and Toronto. They won four consecutive games from Saturday to Tuesday before ending the swing with another win Thursday.
9: Games as part of the current homestand. After the three games against the Yankees, Tampa Bay hosts Boston and Toronto for three contests apiece. It’s the longest homestand until a 10-game stay from June 22-July 2.
11: Stolen bases for the Rays, a total that ranks second in the AL and third overall. Only the Detroit Tigers (13) and Cincinnati Reds (12) have more. Jennings has a team-high four.
"I’ve seen a lot of baseball games here, and that has got to be the furthest ball I’ve ever seen hit." — Manager Kevin Cash to reporters, after Souza smacked a home run to center field that was measured at 463 feet in the Rays’ 3-2 victory over the Blue Jays on Tuesday at the Rogers Centre. Souza has hit .250 with two home runs and seven RBI this season.
"Again, I was just having trouble with the location." — Ramirez to reporters, after he allowed nine runs (seven earned) and eight hits in 3 1/3 innings during the Rays’ 12-7 loss to the Blue Jays on Wednesday at the Rogers Centre. He’s 0-1 with a 23.63 ERA in two appearances this season.
"It should make for an interesting rest of the year against these guys." — Third baseman Evan Longoria to reporters, after reliever Marco Estrada hit him on the left hip with a pitch in the top of the eighth inning as part of the Rays’ 4-2 victory over the Blue Jays on Thursday at the Rogers Centre. Longoria was injured in the sequence.