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Preview: Rays (67-70) at Tigers (63-74)
Venue: Comerica Park
Date: September 08, 2015 7:08 PM EDT
The Tampa Bay Rays’ playoff hopes continue to dwindle, and they could be gone altogether soon if their starting pitching can’t turn things around.
Tampa Bay turns to Erasmo Ramirez to stop the rotation’s slump Tuesday night against the Detroit Tigers at Comerica Park.
Last in the AL with 3.8 runs per game, the Rays (67-70) have remained in contention for a wild-card spot on the strength of their starting pitching, which ranks third in the league with a 3.66 ERA. The rotation is slipping at the wrong time, though, posting a 6.41 mark as the club has dropped four of five.
Drew Smyly was the latest to turn in a lackluster performance, giving up four runs over five innings against his former team in Monday’s 5-4 loss to Detroit.
“This is a very young team and these are really tough losses for them,” manager Kevin Cash said. “In the long run, it is a great learning experience, because we’ve played so many close games that every pitch of every at-bat matters. You learn how to play hard every out.”
Ramirez (10-5, 3.84 ERA) has posted a 5.87 ERA in his last three starts. He totaled only 8 1-3 innings in the past two after completing at least six in five of his previous six outings.
The right-hander has also won once in his previous six road starts, posting a 5.96 ERA in the past four while surrendering five homers in 22 2-3 innings.
Ramirez threw a scoreless inning of relief for Seattle in his only appearance against Detroit on April 25, 2012.
Evan Longoria stayed hot for Tampa Bay on Tuesday, going 3 for 4 with his fifth home run in seven games. He owns a 1.375 OPS in that span.
Rajai Davis led the Tigers (63-74) to their fourth win in 17 contests Monday with two home runs, his first multihomer game since 2012. Davis, who has disappointed with a .244 average after hitting .282 in 2014, had batted .155 over his previous 21 with four home runs all season.
Aside from his first career win against Kansas City on Aug. 5, Detroit’s Matt Boyd (1-5, 8.36) has been mostly dismal in seven other starts. The most recent was a 15-7 loss to the Royals on Thursday in which the left-hander was tagged for six runs before getting pulled after facing four batters in the second inning.
“I just couldn’t throw stuff where I wanted to,” said Boyd, who also walked two.
Tampa Bay ranks near the top of the majors with 46 home runs against lefties. Logan Forsythe’s seven-game hitting streak was snapped Monday but he owns a 1.008 OPS against left-handers. Longoria is hitting .365 off lefties compared to .243 against right-handers.
J.D. Martinez, tops on the Tigers with 89 RBIs, was 0 for 4 with two strikeouts to bring his average to .156 over his last nine games. Victor Martinez, who sat out due to an illness, is also hitting .156 in his last 12, but .344 with 24 RBIs in his past 26 against Tampa Bay.