Rays, Marlins seek to establish winning ways (Jul 21, 2018)
ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- As hard as the Tampa Bay Rays worked to get above .500 with a summer surge, they've now dropped four of five games, including a frustrating 6-5 loss to the Miami Marlins on Friday night.
Tampa Bay (49-48) saw their bullpen give up five runs in the seventh inning, committing two errors on one play, then saw a ninth-inning surge cut a 6-1 deficit to 6-5 with two runners on before the final out.
"Too little, too late," Rays manager Kevin Cash said of his team's late rally, saying they looked "like a team that had four days off" until the final inning, thanks to the All-Star break.
The Marlins (42-57), meanwhile, have won four of five, keeping them ahead of the Mets in the division cellar and giving them a 3-1 series lead on their intrastate rivals.
"We got on a roll and won the first game of the second half," said Derek Dietrich, who had two home runs against the team that drafted him in 2010, including a three-run shot in the seventh to put the Marlins ahead. "I'm just happy to get it rolling here and get a win in the first game out of the All-Star break."
The Rays will go back to an unlikely source of their midseason success: using relievers as "openers" in regular bullpen days as they push on without injured starting pitchers. On Saturday, that will be Ryne Stanek (1-2, 2.08 ERA), who has a 1.08 ERA in 19 appearances since June 1, including 10 starts.
Stanek's lone loss in those seven weeks came against these Marlins on July 2, pitching in the 10th inning and giving up a walk and two hits in a 3-2 walkoff win for Miami. He had warmed up to pitch in the eighth inning Friday but was not used, allowing him to start as scheduled.
Miami will answer with rookie Pablo Lopez, who is making just his fourth major-league start, with a 1-1 record and 6.35 ERA. He has allowed five earned runs in each of his last two outings, though he struck out six in six innings in his last start. He pitched well in the minors this season, carrying a 1.44 ERA in 12 starts between Double-A and Triple-A, striking out 66 batters against only 12 walks.
The Rays may be without center fielder Kevin Kiermaier, who left Friday's game in the fifth inning after a right foot injury flared up painfully. Kiermaier said he fouled a ball off his foot on April 8 and the injury never went away, so while he's had good and bad days, Friday was the worst he'd dealt with all season.
"You would think me being on the 60-day DL (with thumb injury), it would go away," Kiermaier said. "It's crazy that it's still a thing, but I've been feeling it ... It's frustrating because I haven't been able to get rid of this. I've had good days and bad days, but today was the worst day I've had."