Rays aim for 4-game sweep of Royals

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              Tampa Bay Rays' Willy Adames, right, scores as Kansas City Royals catcher Salvador Perez picks up a squeeze bunt by Carlos Gomez during the sixth inning of a baseball game Wednesday, Aug. 22, 2018, in St. Petersburg, Fla. (AP Photo/Chris O'Meara)
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The Tampa Bay Rays and manager Kevin Cash hope giant right-hander Tyler Glasnow figured some things out amid a nightmarish first inning at Fenway Park last Saturday night.

The other members of the Rays staff certainly have.

The 6-foot-8 Glasnow, acquired from the Pittsburgh Pirates in the Chris Archer trade, gave up four runs in that fateful first inning against the Red Sox, but yielded just one run — on a J.D. Martinez home run — after that.

Since that night, the Rays haven’t lost, and Glasnow now tries to finish off a four-game sweep of the Kansas City Royals on Thursday night at The Trop in St. Petersburg, Fla.

The Rays have won four straight to move a season-high five games over .500 (66-61), partially thanks to going 6-0 against the lowly Royals, who lost their 89th game of the season Wednesday night.

Danny Duffy comes off the 10-day disabled list (shoulder impingement) to pitch for the Royals on Thursday.

Glasnow is 1-3 with a 4.10 ERA on the season and 0-1 with a 3.38 ERA in four starts with the Rays. He is 3-12 with a 5.51 ERA in his young career.

The Tampa Bay pitching staff notched 27 straight scoreless innings, tying a club record, before yielding one run Tuesday after two straight shutouts and giving up three more runs Wednesday night.

Glasnow retired the last 12 batters he faced and 17 of the last 18 to end Saturday night on a positive.

Brandon Lowe and Mallex Smith drove in two runs apiece and the Rays won another game with an “opener” starting pitcher on Wednesday night. Ryne Stanek started and worked two hitless innings before Yonny Chirinos pitched five innings in relief. Sergio Romo pitched the ninth for his 18th save.

The Rays stroked 10 two-out hits as their offense woke up Wednesday. The 10 two-out hits were the most by the team in a game in two years.

“That’s really, really impressive, especially for an offense that has been scuffling so much,” Cash said. “There were some great hits by Mallex, by Brandon Lowe, against a really tough left-hander (Tim Hill). We pieced together, and we needed to separate the game a little bit. It allowed us to line up the bullpen a little bit. … A lot of good offensive numbers that we kind of needed.”

Duffy (7-11, 4.90) struggled in the two starts before hitting the DL, yielding 12 earned runs on 16 hits in just 11 1/3 innings. He is 2-1 with a 2.77 ERA in four career starts against the Rays, all in Kansas City.

For the Royals, the misery of the 2018 season continues. They have dropped 16 of their last 20 and lost six straight series.

Jakob Junis fell to 6-12 with the loss Wednesday night, giving up two earned runs in 5 2/3 innings.

“He’s been consistently sharp, especially the last four outings,” said Kansas City manager Ned Yost. “I expect him to go out and make starts like this, give us a chance to win like he did.”

Tommy Pham, who dislocated his right ring finger diving into a base Tuesday night, reported he felt better but that the finger was still swollen. He’s shooting for Thursday but Friday appeared more likely.

“I think we avoided a pretty big scare,” Cash said.

Rookie first baseman Jake Bauers, in a 1-for-33 tailspin, was rested Wednesday, Cash saying, “He’s been pressing, there’s no denying it. He’s frustrated with himself.”

Jorge Bonifacio, scratched Tuesday with lower back stiffness, rested Wednesday but was on Kansas City’s bench and available.

The current Rays roster is just a cumulative 4-for-24 (.167) with no RBIs against Duffy. Carlos Gomez is 3-for-7 (.429) but the rest of the players are a combined 1-for-17 (.059).