Rays return from successful road trip to face sinking Cardinals

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Jul 16, 2023; Kansas City, Missouri, USA; Tampa Bay Rays starting pitcher Zach Eflin (24) delivers a pitch against the Kansas City Royals prior to a game at Kauffman Stadium.
Jul 16, 2023; Kansas City, Missouri, USA; Tampa Bay Rays starting pitcher Zach Eflin (24) delivers a pitch against the Kansas City Royals prior to a game at Kauffman Stadium.
Image: Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

What could have been a deflating road trip turned into a spark for the Tampa Bay Rays

After winning six of nine games away from home, the Rays feel re-energized for their three-game series with the St. Louis Cardinals that begins on Tuesday in St. Petersburg, Fla


Tampa Bay belted three home runs in a 10-6 win against the Detroit Tigers on Sunday. Yandy Diaz and Wander Franco each went deep and had three hits. Brandon Lowe delivered the other long ball

"Coming into this road trip, we were having a tough go, but I feel like this road trip kind of re-energized us," Rays manager Kevin Cash said Sunday. "The guys' at-bats have kind of come to life a little bit.


Before the three-city road trip, the Rays had struggled at the plate. In their two wins at Detroit, they combined for 18 runs

"It looks like the offense is waking up a little bit," Diaz said through an interpreter. "As far as my part, I was trying to put a good swing on it.

The Cardinals, meanwhile, were unable to scratch out as much as one run on Sunday in a 1-0 loss to the Colorado Rockies

St. Louis left 15 on base and went 0-for-9 with runners in scoring position

"There were plenty of opportunities," Cardinals manager Oliver Marmol said. "We didn't get that necessary hit.


Both teams were off on Monday, and on Tuesday, St. Louis sends Miles Mikolas (6-7, 4.29 ERA) to the mound, while Tampa Bay counters with Zach Eflin (12-6, 3.46)

Mikolas was lined up to start on Sunday, but instead opted to drop his appeal on a five-game suspension levied by MLB after the right-hander intentionally plunked Chicago Cubs outfielder Ian Happ with a pitch


With Mikolas not getting the starting nod against Colorado, the Cardinals used left-hander Zack Thompson (2-4) as an opener. Four relievers were used to close out the one-run loss, which made Monday's day off more beneficial to rest some arms

Mikolas is 0-2 with a 7.71 ERA in two career starts against Tampa Bay. In 14 innings, the veteran has yielded four home runs


Eflin is 1-1 with a 4.42 ERA in three starts (18 1/3 innings) against the Cardinals

At home, Eflin has been especially effective this season, posting a 10-2 record with a 2.60 ERA. However, in his last outing at Tropicana Field, the 29-year-old gave up five runs in four innings in a loss to the Miami Marlins on July 26


But in Eflin's last start, on the road at the New York Yankees, the right-hander tossed six shutout innings in a win

The Rays could use a strong start from Eflin because on Sunday at Detroit, they went with Erasmo Ramirez as an opener and used seven total pitchers. Initially, Tyler Glasnow was supposed to make that start, but the right-hander was scratched due to back spasms


Pete Fairbanks, Tampa Bay's closer, polished off the ninth inning in a non-save situation

Because of necessity, the entire bullpen knew they were on call Sunday

Now after taking two of three at the Houston Astros, Yankees and Detroit, the Rays hope to keep momentum going at home, where they are 37-19


"Hopefully, we can channel those three in a row (series wins), and go from there," Fairbanks said

--Field Level Medi