Rays look to close out West Coast trip on high note

Navy Diamond LogoThe Tampa Bay Rays will close out their West Coast season in Seattle this weekend with a three-game set against the Seattle Mariners.  Trying to salvage their road trip, they will send Alex Cobb, (8-3, 2.82 will take the bump against Hisashi Iwakuma, (12-6, 2.92) Friday evening.  Cobb is 1-1 over his past three starts with a 2.29 ERA.  Iwakuma is 1-0 in his last three outings with an ERA of 2.70.  Cobb has been stellar since his return from the disabled list.

Saturday, the Rays will trot rookie Chris Archer to the hill against southpaw Jim Paxton, who will be making his first major league start.  Sunday, Matt Moore will face righty Erasmo Ramirez.  Moore earned his fifteenth victory of the season against the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, going 5.1 innings and allowing no earned runs in a 7-1 Rays win.

The West Coast trip hasn’t gone as well as hoped, with the Rays going two-and-four into their game Thursday night’s game with the Angels.  At this time, Tampa Bay stands second in the wild-card standings, 2.5 games behind Oakland and Texas, who are tied for the lead in the A.L. West.  The New York Yankees trail Tampa Bay by 2.5 games for the second wild-card slot in the American League. 

  • Tampa Bay has their destiny somewhat in their own hands.  While they won’t be playing Oakland again this season, they will be facing Texas, New York, and Baltimore, with an opportunity to gain ground on Texas and possibly put ground between themselves and New York and Baltimore.  After the outings posted by Moore and Jeremy Hellickson against L.A., there’s reason to believe their pitching can put up a strong stretch run.  With so many games to go, there’s no guarantee the other teams won’t go on a hot streak, but it’s nice to know the Rays can put some losses on each of them.
  • As for catching the Red Sox for the A.L. East lead, Tampa Bay is 5.5 games behind the BoSox, but will take on the beantowners  in a three game series after returning home from the Pacific Coast.
  • It was good to see Wil Myers break out of a rough stretch Wednesday with a pair of homers off Jered Weaver, to go along with three RBIs on the night. 
  • Over their past two victories, Tampa Bay has struggled with men in scoring position, going 5-29.  The offense knows this is push time.  If they can get hot – and they’re due to – the pitching seems to have plenty of options for Joe Maddon.  Roberto Hernandez looked great out of the bullpen in Moore’s victory, Cobb is healthy, Hellickson looked solid in his return from a brief R & R in the minors, and David Price surely knows how to take the ball in clutch situations.  The bullpen is loaded, with all the familiar names, plus Hernandez.

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