Tagged in: Rays

Los Angeles Dodgers tab Clayton Kershaw to start Game 1 of World Series

Clayton Kershaw, who avoided an emergency relief appearance over the last two matches of the just-completed National League Championship Series, will start Game 1 of the World Series, the Los Angeles Dodgers announced on Monday.

Kershaw, who will be making his fifth career World Series start, will oppose Tampa Bay Rays right-hander Tyler Glasnow on Tuesday (first pitch from Globe Life Field in Arlington, Texas, is 8:09 p.m. ET).

Walker Buehler, who pitched on Saturday, will be pushed back to Game 3 for the Dodgers, giving him five days of rest and still lining him up to start a potential Game 7.

The Rays have tabbed left-hander Blake Snell as their Game 2 starter, but the Dodgers are still unclear, manager Dave Roberts said. His other three starters — Dustin May, Tony Gonsolin and Julio Urias — all pitched in Sunday’s Game 7, and some might be counted on out of the bullpen in the World Series opener.

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Kershaw was initially scratched from Game 2 of the NLCS

Due to back spasms Kershaw was initially scratch but was able to recovered in time to start Thursday’s Game 4, permitting one run through the first five innings before running into trouble in the sixth.

The 32-year-old left-hander made himself available out of the bullpen for Games 6 and 7, but Roberts wanted to avoid using Kershaw in hopes of saving him for a potential World Series opener.

Cody Bellinger is expecting to play behind Kershaw even though his right shoulder popped out of its socket during an emphatic celebration with Enrique Hernandez after his game-winning home run in Sunday’s seventh inning.

The Dodgers’ center fielder said he feels “pretty good” and expects to be ready by Game 1, but Roberts said Bellinger’s shoulder was “still a little bit sore” during Monday’s optional workout.

Bellinger has experienced something similar at least three other times, he said, and Roberts said it’s more of a concern hitting than it is playing defense.

“It was an exciting time, it was pure adrenaline — a thing where you just black out,” Bellinger said of his celebration. “Obviously I wish I didn’t do it, but it was such a cool moment for me. It was just pure excitement.”

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Voit, Torres homer as Yankees beat Rays 5-1 to force Game 5

The New York Yankees staved off playoff elimination after taking down the Tampa Bay Rays 5-1 in Game 4 of the American League Division Series on Thursday.

Luke Voit and Gleyber Torres each hit home runs for the Yankees, who benefitted from stellar pitching all night. Starter Jordan Montgomery tossed four innings of one-run ball before giving way to the bullpen, which tossed five no-hit innings and permitted just one baserunner on a walk.

The Rays had a chance for a big third inning after putting runners on second and third with no outs, but they could only score one run off a Brandon Lowe RBI groundout.

Tampa Bay had just three hits on the night. New York and Tampa Bay are tied at two games apiece in their best-of-five series. New York took Game 1 by a 9-3 score before Tampa Bay won the next two games 7-5 and 8-4.

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New York’s pitching left much to be desired in Games 2 and 3.

The infamous Game 2 featured the Yankees opting for an opener strategy and starting 21-year-old Deivi Garcia, who permitted one earned run in one frame before giving way to starter-turned-long reliever J.A. Happ. 

The southpaw proceeded to allow four earned runs in two-and-a-third innings, and the Yanks eventually lost 7-5.

In Game 3, starter Masahiro Tanaka arguably found himself on the wrong end of strike zone luck but ultimately permitted five earned runs in just four innings of work en route to an 8-4 loss.

Facing elimination in Game 4, the Yanks needed a strong start from Jordan Montgomery and a stellar bullpen outing to beat the pesky Rays, and they collectively got the job done.

Despite a shaky third inning, Montgomery was largely fantastic and wiggled his way out of potentially precarious situations.

He allowed a leadoff first-inning single but soon induced a double play.

In the fourth inning, Montgomery put runners on first and second with two outs, but he got Kevin Kiermaier to ground out and end the frame.

The Yankees’ collective pitching efforts have now led to a Game 5 where they’ll start staff ace Gerrit Cole, who has far and away been the team’s best and most consistent pitcher. He’ll be opposed by Rays ace and left-hander Blake Snell, however, in a match that looks like a low-scoring nail biter on paper.

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Arozarena leads Rays in 8-4 victory over Yankees

Randy Arozarena homered for the third consecutive game and Kevin Kiermaier and Michael Perez also went deep for the Tampa Bay Rays, who beat the New York Yankees 8-4 Wednesday night to move within one victory of reaching the AL Championship Series for the first time in 12 years.

New York’s Giancarlo Stanton hit a two-run homer off rookie Shane McClanahan to center field in the eighth inning to become the first player with a home run in each of his team’s first five games of a single postseason. Stanton has six homers in those five games. McClanahan made his major league debut in Game 1 on Monday night.

The Rays took a 2-1 lead in the best-of-five Division Series. Game 4 is Thursday night at Petco Park, which has yielded 16 home runs in three matches — nine by Tampa Bay.

The Rays are looking to advance out of the ALDS for just the second time. They reached the 2008 World Series before losing to the Philadelphia Phillies. Arozarena, a 25-year-old rookie from Havana who’s nicknamed “The Cuban Rocket,” is having a breakout postseason. He homered off Gerrit Cole in the first inning of Game 1, a 9-3 Yankees victory, and off rookie Deivi García in the first inning of Game 2, a 7-5 Rays win.

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He hit a shot deep to left leading off the fifth Wednesday night to chase Masahiro Tanaka and give the Rays a 5-1 lead.

Arozarena went 3 for 4 with a walk.

He leads all players in the postseason with 12 hits in five games. He went hitless in five postseason plate appearances in 2019 for St. Louis, which traded him to Tampa Bay in January.

“He has to be the best baseball player on earth right now,” Rays starter Tyler Glasnow said after Tuesday night’s victory. “What he’s doing is phenomenal.”

Kiermaier hit a three-run shot into the home run deck in right off Tanaka with no outs in the fourth to make it 4-1. Joey Wendle was aboard on a leadoff single and Willy Adames on a walk.

Perez hit a two-run shot to left off Chad Green in the sixth. Kiermaier was aboard on a leadoff double. It was the 11th home run by a No. 9 hitter this postseason, the most all-time.

Charlie Morton got the win after holding the Yankees to two runs, one earned, and four hits in five innings. He struck out six and walked two in winning his fifth straight postseason decision.

Tanaka took the loss after permitting five runs and eight hits in four-plus innings. He struck out four and walked one. The Yankees loaded the bases twice in the third inning and got only a sacrifice fly by Aaron Judge. Aaron Hicks hit an RBI double in the fifth.

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Colin Poche will miss the season with torn UCL

Rays lefty Colin Poche has been diagnosed with a torn ulnar collateral ligament in his left elbow and will miss the 2020 campaign, the team announced.

Tommy John surgery has been suggested for the 26-year-old Poche, who has been placed on the 45-day injured list. Tampa Bay selected veteran catcher Kevan Smith to the big league roster in a corresponding move.

The loss of Poche is a tough blow for the Tampa Bay bullpen. While last season’s 4.70 ERA doesn’t exactly stand out as an impressive mark. Poche’s secondary numbers were all considerably better.

The southpaw averaged 12.5 strikeouts and 3.3 walks per nine innings pitched with a 4.08 FIP in 51 2/3 frames. In spite of that unsightly ERA, Poche overwhelmed both left- and right-handed hitters, yielding just a .167/.276/.348 slash to lefties and a .190/.277/.388 line to righties.

A 67.6 percent strand rate that was massively worse than his career mark in the minors, and Statcast pegged Poche in the 91st percentile or better in terms of swinging-strike rate and his opponents’ expected batting average, slugging percentage and weight on-base average.

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A breakout season for the talented lefty seemed eminently possible, but he could now be sidelined into late 2021 — if not all the way into the 2022 campaign.

Poche will get a year of service time in 2020 as he rehabs on the 45-day IL, and he’ll need to be placed on the 60-day IL to open the 2021 season as well. If he is indeed out until 2022, he may be arbitration-eligible as a Super Two player by the time he’s able to return to the mound, although with 114 days under his belt at the moment, he’d be a very borderline case for Super Two status.

As for the 32-year-old Smith, he’ll likely make the club’s roster as a backup catcher. Smith has seen time in each of the past four seasons — 2016-18 with the White Sox and 2019 with the Angels — hitting a combined .272/.318/.381 along the way.

That’s pretty solid production from behind the plate, but Smith also owns a woeful 14 percent caught stealing rate and has posted sub-par framing numbers as well.

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Rays chase Verlander early, beat Astros to even ALDS

The Tampa Bay Rays never disbelieved themselves, even with Justin Verlander looking to end their season.

Willy Adames homered and made a extraordinary relay throw from shortstop, and the Rays chased the Houston ace early in beating the Astros 4-1 Tuesday night to even their AL Division Series at two games apiece.

With their second victory in two days over one of baseball’s best pitchers, the Rays believe the rest of the country is finally getting a taste of what they’re capable of achieving.

”Hey, I hate to say it: About time, because we have a really good team over here,” Tommy Pham said.

”To win 96 games in this division (the AL East) with New York and Boston is an impressive feat,” he added. ”All year, we’ve been getting talked down. And now, with the last two games, the way we played, the whole world has seen how good of a team we are and how well-rounded we are.”

The series shifts back to Houston for a decisive Game 5 on Thursday night.

Astros star Gerrit Cole is scheduled to pitch for the heavily favored AL West champs, who led the majors with 107 wins this season and have one more chance to close out the feisty Rays. Tyler Glasnow is expected to start for Tampa Bay.

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The winner plays the New York Yankees in the AL Championship Series.

Verlander, starting on short rest after dominating the wild-card Rays in Game 1, looked uncomfortable on the mound at Tropicana Field and was pulled in the fourth after giving up four runs.

Verlander, whose eight career ALDS victories are a major league record, yielded three runs in the first. Adames homered leading off the fourth to make it 4-0, and the eight-time All-Star didn’t make it through the inning.

”A good approach for those guys in the first, and then honestly, I need those infield singles to be caught. When you don’t have it, you need the balls that are put in play to go your way, and they didn’t,” said Verlander, who only started on short rest three other times during his career, including the 2011 ALDS, when he started Games 1 and 3 after Game 1 was suspended in the second inning.

The Rays helped themselves by playing stellar defense, especially with the Astros threatening to cut into their three-run deficit in the fourth.

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