Registrato: 28/09/18 10:36
|ST. PETERSBURG , Fla. — Tampa Bay’s continued experimentation with relievers as starters has had mixed results, but it helped the Rays beat the best team in baseball on Friday night, and they’ll hope for the same formula as the series continues Saturday at Tropicana Field.
“It’s a little backwards, a little different, but it is what it is,” Yankees‘ Brett Gardner said after Friday’s 2-1 win for the Rays.
On Saturday, the Rays will start reliever Wilmer Font (0-3, 7.56 ERA), who is already with his third team in 2018, but has found surprising success growing into the unusual role. In six June appearances, he has managed to last longer in each outing — 2/3 of an inning, then 1 1/3, then 2, then 2 1/3, then 3 1/3, and then 4 2/3 on Sunday against the same Yankees.
Font lasted one out shorter than the minimum needed for a win but held the Yankees to one run and four hits, striking out five. The same pitcher who had an 11.68 ERA in April and a 10.80 ERA in May now has a 2.51 ERA in June.
The Rays might not have a majority of fans in their own stadium, but they’re finding ways to win.
“They were pretty loud,” Rays manager Kevin Cash said of the Yankees fans on Friday night. “We’ve played the Yankees and Red Sox quite a bit, and they have a lot of fans who travel with them. I thought the loudest moment was when we got the final out, and that’s what we were concerned about. Our fans showed up and supported us.”
If the Rays want to win again Saturday , they’ll have to do so against another pitcher who has gotten steadily better as the season has progressed. Sonny Gray (5-4, 4.8) hasn’t faced the Rays yet this season, but he’s 3-4 in his career against Tampa Bay with a 4.26 ERA, including a 4.32 in four starts last year.
Gray had a 6.67 ERA in April, then a 5.16 ERA in May. For June, his ERA stands at 2.63. Gray has allowed only seven earned runs in 24 innings.
The Rays put together 10 hits on Friday, but got nothing from one of their best hitters.
Kevin Kiermaier went 0-for-4 to drop to 0-for-13 since his return from the disabled list. The Rays did get three hits from catcher Wilson Ramos, who has stepped into the American League lead in All-Star voting among catchers.
Yankees catcher Gary Sanchez, next in the All-Star voting, went 0-for-4 to drop his season average to .194. Ramos may get traded before this year’s deadline, but he’s making the most of his time with the Rays.
No one will confuse the Yankees (50-23) with the Rays (35-40), but another bullpen day Saturday could flummox a New York batting order that managed only five hits Friday. And when they did get hits, the Yankees couldn’t capitalize and went 1-for-9 with runners in scoring position.
After the Rays dropped their first six games against the Yankees this season, they have won two straight as they try to again claw back to playing .500 baseball.
MILWAUKEE — Matt Albers won’t be available Wednesday afternoon when the Milwaukee Brewers wrap up their three-game series with the Chicago Cubs at Miller Park.
The Brewers placed the right-handed reliever on the disabled list Tuesday with a strained right shoulder following a disastrous showing Monday night in a loss to the Cubs when he allowed a season-high five runs in the 11th inning of a 7-2 Brewers loss.
“He reported some soreness after the game,” Brewers manager Craig Counsell said. “He said it has been there for a little bit. We’ve got to just shut it down and try to get him better. Hopefully, it’s something that’s on the shorter end of things and we’ll have all the diagnostics done and get an answer to that a little later in the week.”
Albers was a big part of Milwaukee’s bullpen’s early-season success.
While Josh Hader and Jeremy Jeffress attracted most of the attention with their dominance, Albers went 3-1 with a save and a 1.08 ERA through his first 21 appearances.
Things took a turn, though, when the calendar flipped to June.
Albers posted a 19.64 ERA over his last four appearances.
“He got to the point where it was affecting him out there on the field and it’s just time to take a break,” Counsell said.
Milwaukee recalled right-hander Jorge Lopez from Triple-A Colorado Springs to fill Albers’ spot on the roster and hands the ball to right-hander Jhoulys Chacin on Wednesday in the series finale, looking to extend their half-game lead over the Cubs in the National League Central.
Chacin has been stellar of late , going 5-0 with a 2.92 ERA over his last 11 starts and is 5-1 with a 3.58 ERA in 15 starts this season.
“He’s doing what he’s good at,” Counsell said. “He’s executing what he’s good at. It’s a sinking fastball, it’s a very good breaking ball. It’s a sprinkled-in changeup to left-handed hitters.
“Overall, he’s just pitching well.”
Chacin hasn’t faced Chicago since June 20 of last season but is 2-4 with a 3.82 ERA in seven career outings (six starts) against the Cubs.
He’ll match up against Cubs lefty Mike Montgomery, who’s filled in nicely while Yu Darvish recovers from right triceps tendinitis. Montgomery is 2-0 with a 1.02 ERA in three starts this season after holding the Pirates to a run over six innings his last time out and is 2-1 with a 3.56 ERA overall this season.
“What he’s showing right now is how good he actually is,” Cubs manager Joe Maddon said.
Montgomery has served as the Cubs’ swingman since he was acquired in a trade ahead of the 2016 deadline. He made it known over the winter that he’d prefer to be a full-time starter but has embraced his current role without issue.
Maddon respected Montgomery’s candor and appreciates his willingness to put the team first.
“I want our guys to speak their mind,” Maddon said. “If that’s what you feel, don’t hold it back. Say it straight forwardly, and then let’s talk about it. I love that. He’s been that guy for a couple years, we just haven’t had that opportunity for him. My advice back to him was just stay ready. ‘When that opportunity arises you need to be ready to take advantage of it.’ He has. … This doesn’t surprise me, what he’s doing.”
Darvish meanwhile took a step forward Tuesday. The right-hander threw off a mound for the first time since May 26 during a 30-pitch bullpen session in Milwaukee. He reported no issues during the workout and will be re-evaluated Wednesday morning.
“He threw really well, easy gas, great location, good spin on his breaking ball, (I was) very impressed,” Maddon said. “The ball was coming out hot, and it was going right where he wanted to throw it. Good command in the ‘pen. … That’s just a bullpen, but it was very encouraging to see him throw that easily and that well.”
There is still no time table for Darvish, who is 1-3 with a 4.95 ERA in eight starts this season, to return.