Entering their "Citrus Series," the Rays had dropped seven of eight
"Just how things were rolling in previous games," Rays second baseman Brandon Lowe said Tuesday after he homered and had three hits. "We were hitting balls hard, and getting out. We had some unlucky bounces here and there. Off day. Reset yourself and come in, and get some hits off the bat immediately, I feel like, relaxed this team a little bit.
The Marlins, 1-9 since the All-Star break, aim to salvage a split against one of the top teams in the majors
"There's a lot of challenges," Marlins manager Skip Schumaker said of the Rays. "They're managed really well. The coaching staff is one of the better (staffs) in the league, if not the best in the league. ... They have elite arms in the bullpen.
Wednesday's finale comes with a quick turnaround, starting at 12:10 p.m. local time.
Tampa Bay is going with Zach Eflin (11-5, 3.36 ERA), its most reliable starter. At home, especially, the right-hander has impressed, with a 10-1 record and 2.10 ERA.
The Marlins counter with Sandy Alcantara (3-9, 4.70)
The 2022 National League Cy Young Award winner, Alcantara has provided innings, logging 126 1/3 in 20 starts, but has lacked consistency.
On the road, the 27-year-old is 2-5 with a 4.91 ERA in 11 starts. A telling statistic from a year ago: He had a 2.63 ERA in day game starts. This season, the 6-foot-5 right-hander is 0-5 with a 4.98 ERA in matinees.
Eflin has quite a bit of history facing the Marlins, dating to when he pitched for the Philadelphia Phillies. In 16 games (15 starts) against Miami, he is 5-7 with a 4.97 ERA in 88 2/3 innings
Eflin pitched a gem in his last start, tossing seven shutout innings and scattering two hits and a walk while striking out eight in a 3-0 win over the visiting Baltimore Orioles.
"I don't like overthinking things," Eflin said after beating Baltimore. "I don't like overanalyzing things. So, for me, it was just flush it down the toilet and move on."
Having an innings-eater like Eflin on the mound should be a boost for the Rays, who often rely heavily on their bullpen
Alcantara will be making his fifth career start against Tampa Bay. In 22 innings, the Miami ace is 1-2 with a 3.68 ERA.
In his last start, he gave up four runs in the first inning in a 6-4 loss at St. Louis. He did settle down after the first, shutting the Cardinals out over the next five innings.
"I was missing a lot up in the zone, so when you miss there, they just want to see it and they swing (at it)," Alcantara said about the first inning. "After that, I just battled inning by inning to try to not let them score more runs, and I did it."
--Field Level Media