|10:10 AM PT11:10 AM MT12:10 PM CT1:10 PM ET13:10 ET17:10 GMT1:10 10:10 AM MST12:10 PM EST12:40 PM VEN21:10 UAE12:10 PM CT, May 8, 2019
Tropicana Field, St. Petersburg, Florida Attendance: 8,663
Rays go for sweep over Diamondbacks
Arizona Diamondbacks at Tampa Bay Rays
- The Rays are off to their second-best 33-game start all-time, trailing only 2010 (23-10, .697). The Diamondbacks have started a season with at least 20 wins in their first 34 games for the second consecutive season and for only the fifth time in their 22 seasons as a franchise.
- The Rays have split two consecutive series after going 1-1 in Baltimore and 2-2 in Kansas City. Tampa Bay returns home where it started 7-2 but has gone 2-5 since April 18.
- Yandy Diaz has gone 0-for-15 over his last four games but drew two walks in Tampa Bay's May 3 win over Baltimore. The Rays are 18-6 (.750) this season when Diaz reaches base at least once, trailing only Nelson Cruz (Min, 17-5, .773) for the best team record when a player reaches base (min. 20 games).
- The Diamondbacks have won two straight series after taking two of three from the Rockies in Colorado. Arizona scored 26 runs across the three games at Coors Field, slugging nine home runs, tied for the most by any National League team in a three-game series this season (Brewers vs. Cubs from April 5-7).
- Eduardo Escobar picked up at least one hit in each of the three games against the Rockies and hit two home runs. Escobar is slashing .407/.443/.870 in 13 games since April 20 with six home runs and 13 RBI after previously posting marks of .222/.317/.319 with one home run and 8 RBI over his first 20 games.
- Tampa's Blake Snell allowed seven earned runs his last time out, his second start this season allowing at least five earned -- he had two such starts all of last season. Arizona's Merrill Kelly has won back-to-back starts, allowing three earned over his last 12.1 innings.
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The Tampa Bay Rays will send out a hot pitcher as they try to complete a three-game sweep of the Arizona Diamondbacks on Wednesday afternoon in St. Petersburg, Fla.
Charlie Morton (3-0, 2.52 ERA) has been excellent in the past two games, throwing six shutout innings in a 2-1 win against the Boston Red Sox on April 27, and allowing one run in a season-high 6 2/3 innings against Kansas City as the Rays prevailed 3-1.
Morton allowed seven hits, striking out 14 and walking five, in those two starts, spanning 12 2/3 innings.
He is 5-1 with a 3.68 ERA in nine career starts against the Diamondbacks. He started twice against Arizona last season when he was with the Houston Astros, going 1-0 with a 4.09 ERA, yielding six hits in 11 innings, striking out 10 and walking four.
The Rays have won nine of 13 series this season. Arizona has lost three consecutive games.
Tampa Bay has given up only four runs in the first two games of the series, with half of those runs coming on solo homers in the ninth inning of Tuesday night's 6-3 victory.
"They do a really good job in a lot of areas, not just pitching," Diamondbacks manager Torey Lovullo said of the Rays, who have the best record in the majors at 23-12.
"They grind down their at-bats. They don't give in. They have a nice approach with men in scoring position. You can see why they're a good team, on top of the pitching."
Arizona will counter Wednesday with left-hander Robbie Ray (2-1, 3.79 ERA), who will be making his first career start at Tropicana Field. His only previous outing against the Rays came in 2016, when he took the loss after allowing five runs in 4 1/3 innings.
One of the things the Rays are doing well is getting an early lead. They have scored in the first inning in 21 of 35 games, including in both outings against Arizona. Brandon Lowe hit the first pitch in the bottom of the first inning Tuesday night for his eighth home run of the season.
"It's just staying aggressive," he said. "Most of the time that first pitch of the game is going to be a strike, or it's going to be a good pitch to hit. That might be the best pitch you get to hit, and I don't want to pass that opportunity up."
The home run extended his hitting streak to 11 games, during which he is hitting .364 with 11 runs scored and seven RBIs.
Lowe, the American League Rookie of the Month for April, is hitting .350 (14 of 40) with four walks in 10 games as the Rays' leadoff hitter.
"There are a lot of things that he does that helps us win," said Rays manager Kevin Cash. "He's swinging a hot bat right now and it seems like he comes up in big situations and really gets it done in those big situations."
Tampa Bay is a season-high 11 games over .500.
Rays catcher Michael Perez was a late scratch from the lineup Tuesday night because of an oblique injury. Cash said after the game that Perez would undergo further tests but didn't know his status for Wednesday.
"I'm not sure which way it's going to go," Cash said, "but it's an oblique and those generally aren't the best."
--Field Level Media
Updated May 8, 2019