By their high standards, the Tampa Bay Rays have been in a bit of a slump, dropping six of nine games entering Wednesday night. They were on the brink of another loss before Josh Lowe came to the rescue in Phoenix
Tampa Bay's late heroics evened the interleague series, with the rubber match set for Thursday afternoon.
"Everybody just kind of passed the baton there in the ninth, and we showed our resiliency," Lowe said during a postgame interview on Bally Sports Sun.
On Thursday, the Diamondbacks are going with rookie Brandon Pfaadt (0-2, 8.37 ERA). The 24-year-old right-hander is expected to be recalled from Triple-A Reno, where he has a 5-1 record and 3.53 ERA in 10 starts and 51 innings
Pfaadt is getting the nod to fill in for Merrill Kelly, who is on the injured list due to a blood clot in his lower right leg.
Regarded as the Diamondbacks' top pitching prospect, Pfaadt made his major league debut on May 3 against the Texas Rangers, but he struggled in five starts. Arizona optioned the rookie to Reno after a rough outing against the Boston Red Sox on May 26, when he gave up five runs in 3 2/3 innings
He will rejoin a Diamondbacks team that sits atop the National League West thanks to a group effort
"It's not one guy always kind of bailing us out with a three-run home run or one guy coming out of the bullpen and striking the side out with the bases loaded," Arizona manager Torey Lovullo said. "This team is built around one another, to pick up their brother. We talk about that a lot here."
On Wednesday, Diamondbacks shortstop Geraldo Perdomo didn't start, but he pinch-hit and walked in the ninth inning. Perdomo is expected to start on Thursday
In the series finale, Tampa Bay will have right-hander Zack Littell (0-1, 6.57 ERA) serve as an opener ahead of right-hander Yonny Chirinos (3-3, 3.91). In his past five outings, Littell has allowed five runs on nine hits in 6 1/3 innings.
Chirinos is known for pitching to contact, as he has just 23 strikeouts in 48 1/3 innings. The 29-year-old also has been better on the road than at Tropicana Field. Away, Chirinos is 2-2 with a 2.79 ERA in 29 innings, while at home, he is 1-1 with a 5.59 ERA in 19 1/3 innings.
He has never faced the Diamondbacks
Thursday's rubber game of the three-game set caps the Rays' first series in Phoenix since 2016
While Tampa Bay has been accustomed to going to the postseason in recent years, the Diamondbacks are looking to reach the playoffs for the first time since 2017. Simply facing a high-caliber team like the Rays is something the Diamondbacks are embracing
"We're super excited about it," Lovullo said. "We know what they are, and we've been studying them for the past couple of days. We know that they are a good baseball team.
"They do a lot right. They take care of the baseball, defensively. They pitch well. They can outslug you. They can outpoint you with base hits. They can bunt. They're a complete team. The record is justified. We know that."
--Field Level Media