The major-league-leading Tampa Bay Rays have won nine of their past 11 games, and on Saturday, they shattered an opponent's no-hit bid by scoring 10 runs in the seventh inning
As the Rays try to keep the host Chicago White Sox sinking and secure a four-game sweep on Sunday afternoon, Tampa Bay players insist a mastery of the basics is what's boosting them
"We're preparing right," outfielder Randy Arozarena said through an interpreter. "Pitching, hitting, defense. Everything we're doing, we're working hard, and we're going to continue to work hard."
Tampa Bay had one baserunner through the first six innings Saturday. By the time the game was over, they had 12 runs on 11 hits, including five home runs, with two coming off the bat of Arozarena.
The Rays have gone deep in each of their 12 road games this season, and on Sunday they will face a pitcher who has struggled by surrendering home runs lately. After allowing no homers in his first three starts, Chicago right-hander Mike Clevinger (2-2, 4.81 ERA) has yielded three homers in his past two
Chicago has lost 10 games in a row. In the club's latest defeat, manager Pedro Grifol benched center fielder Luis Robert Jr. for a "mental lapse" after he didn't run out a first-inning groundout. Robert said he has felt hamstring tightness since Friday's loss to the Rays but elected not to inform the coaching staff
"I think my mistake was that I didn't tell anybody," Robert said. "I didn't tell the manager because I knew if I said something to him, he probably wouldn't let me play."
Elvis Andrus had a two-run single and Eloy Jimenez added an RBI double to give the White Sox a 3-0 lead for right-hander Lance Lynn, who lost his no-hit bid when Wander Franco opened the Rays' seventh with a home run
On Sunday, Rays right-hander Drew Rasmussen (3-2, 3.33) will get the call for the visitors as he eyes a rebound from Tuesday's 5-0 home loss to Houston
Rasmussen surrendered five runs in 4 2/3 innings while allowing nine hits. He allowed six hits in a seven-batter span in the fifth inning, including four doubles.
"You miss over the big part of the plate in leverage counts, and damage tends to get done," Rasmussen said. "They found some holes, and they were able to exploit some bad pitches, and that's just how this game works. But it is one of those things where we just continued to attack, and unfortunately, it didn't work out."
The loss marked the first time the Rays were blanked this season. While they were shut out again the following night, Tampa Bay has responded since coming to Chicago, winning the first three games of the series by a combined score of 29-10
In two career starts against the White Sox, Rasmussen is 0-1 with a 2.25 ERA and one walk and four strikeouts in 12 innings
Clevinger has had success against Tampa Bay in limited action, going 1-0 with a 0.00 in two appearances, including one start, covering 7 1/3 innings.
--Field Level Media