The Tampa Bay Rays' season-opening strength - their starting pitching - has morphed from total domination to "Is it good enough to go deep in the playoffs?" due to a multitude of injuries, but right-hander Aaron Civale is expected to provide shutdown stuff.
Acquired from the Cleveland Guardians on July 31 for prized farmhand Kyle Manzardo, Civale (6-3, 2.44 ERA) has been as good as advertised and will make his first career start against the Colorado Rockies on Wednesday in St. Petersburg, Fla.
Over three August starts for Tampa Bay, the former Northeastern University pitcher is 1-1 with a 2.94 ERA.
The rotation lost two of its starting five - Drew Rasmussen and Jeffrey Springs - very early in the season, getting a grand total of 11 starts between them.
Two days after the Rays traded for Civale, ace Shane McClanahan walked off the mound at Yankee Stadium with an arm injury. He had Tommy John surgery Monday and will not be back until 2025.
Promising fireballer Shane Baz is also still recovering from the procedure, pushing the number of Tampa Bay pitchers to nine who have had the reconstructive surgery since 2020.
"I know what kind of player (Manzardo) is," second baseman Brandon Lowe said after the trade. "For the Rays to give him up for Civale, it shows that much more of who he is as a pitcher and what he can do for us and how much they believe that he can help this team."
Top American League hitter Yandy Diaz (.328) had the game-winning RBI, and rookie Osleivis Basabe clubbed his first career homer - a grand slam - as the home side managed 16 hits and moved to 12-10 all-time against the National League West club.
Rockies manager Bud Black detailed a few close plays in the disastrous frame, including a looped leadoff single by Jose Siri, a potential double-play ball that bounced off the glove of diving third baseman Ryan McMahon and a 3-2 walk to rookie Curtis Mead that filled the bases with no outs.
"Baseball got us a little bit in that inning," Black said. "That's baseball, right? A game of inches. ... They just bunched some singles together and got the ball in play. That's something we talk about offensively."
A native of Winter Garden, Fla., less than two hours from the Rays' dome, Gomber has performed much better deeper into the season.
Across his eight starts in July and August, the former Florida Atlantic University hurler is 3-2 with a 3.50 ERA.
However, after allowing a monthly season-low batting average of .277 in July, Gomber has had hitters rake at a .323 clip over 16 1/3 innings in August.
Not surprisingly, the five-year veteran is 5-4 with a 7.06 ERA in 14 starts at explosive Coors Field, but he is 4-5 with a 3.59 ERA in 11 road stints.
Overall, Gomber has won five of his past seven decisions.
—Field Level Media