Friday, June 2, 2023
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MLB Preview: Los Angeles Dodgers (31-20) at Tampa Bay Rays (37-15)


LAST LEG: The Los Angeles Dodgers had their chances on Wednesday night to complete the first sweep of the Braves since 1991, but it was the Braves that walked-off the Dodgers, 4-3 at Truist Park. Despite the loss, the Dodgers remain 1.5-games ahead of the Arizona Diamondbacks in the National League West division and are tied with Atlanta for most wins in the National League. The Dodgers conclude their road trip (3-4) with the last leg of their 10-day, three-city trip with the first of three against the Tampa Bay Rays at 6:40 p.m. at Tropicana Field. Los Angeles (.608) owns the second-best record in the National League, behind the Atlanta Braves (.620).

THE RUN: Since 2019, the Dodgers have a 397-200 (.665) record, which is currently the best winning percentage for a five-year span in Major League Baseball history (expansion era). The 1995-1999 Atlanta Braves won 496 games in the five-year span, garnering a .6263 winning percentage, which is the second best in the expansion era, percentage points ahead of the 1972-1976 Cincinnati Reds, who posted a .6259 winning percentage in that span. In the last five years, the Rays are the third best record in all the Majors with a 359-239 record.

ONE MORE HIT: The Dodgers erased deficits on two different occasions, coming from down 1-0 to tie the game at one-all on a Mookie Betts homer in the sixth inning. The Dodgers would fall behind again in the bottom of the sixth inning and the Dodgers would score two runs in the eighth inning to tie the game at 3-3. In the eighth inning, Jason Heyward drove in Will Smith on a sacrifice fly and Miguel Vargas scored J.D. Martinez on a two-out, two-strike RBI double. However, the Braves would score in the bottom of the ninth to avoid getting swept by Los Angeles. Tony Gonsolin made the start, firing three scoreless innings before being tagged for one in the fourth inning and two in the fifth inning. The run in the fourth snapped a season-high 14.1 scoreless inning streak and was the first earned run he had allowed since May 1 against the Phillies.

J-MART: Since returning from the Injured list on May 12, the designated hitter J.D. Martinez has hit safely in 11 of 12 games, batting .300 (15-for-50) with three doubles, five homers and 15 RBI. In his career, May has been his most productive month, clubbing 58 homers and driving in 159 runners and recording a .893 OPS.

INTERLEAGUING: The Dodgers are 2-1 in interleague play this season after going 15-5 last season against the other league, including an 8-2 record on the road. Since the start of the 2019 season, Los Angeles is 55-28 in interleague play, their .663 winning percentage in that span is second best in the Majors, trailing only the Tampa Bay Rays, who have a .684 winning percentage in that span. THE GLUE: Dodger catcher Will Smith went 2-for-4 on Wednesday night and is now batting .329 (23- for-70) with three doubles, four homers in the month of May with a .973 OPS. The Dodgers are 23-10 (.697) when Smith has appeared in a game. The backstop’s .719 winning percentage while in a game leads the National League and is ninth in the Majors.

FABULOUS FREDDIE: Freddie Freeman extended his hitting streak to 14 games on Wednesday, going 1-for-4. He is batting .429 (24-for-56) with four homers, seven doubles, one triple, 17 RBI and 13 runs scored during the streak and has hit safely in all but two games in May. Freeman is third in the Major Leagues with 42 runs scored, trailing just Ronald Acuña Jr. (46) and Marcus Semien (45). He clubbed his 300th career homer on May 18 and became just the fifth player in franchise history to accomplish that feat in a Dodger uniform: His 300th career homer came in grand fashion, clubbing his fourth career Grand Slam. He became only the second person in Major League Baseball history to hit his No. 300 for Grand Slam, joining Ruben Sierra, who clubbed his 300th on August 28, 2004 for the Yankees at Toronto.

LONG BALLS: The Dodgers connected for a homer on Wednesday and have 82 on the season, which is third in the Majors, behind only the Tampa Bay Rays (97) and Atlanta Braves (83). Los Angeles recorded their 14th 3+ homer game of the season on Monday, which trails only the Rays (16) for most in the league. Los Angeles is also second in the Majors with 42 games with at least one homer, behind the Rays (45), who have homered in all but seven games this season.


  • Earned his first win as a Dodger in his start on April 30 against St. Louis, firing 5.1 innings, giving up eight hits and three runs…he is 1-3 on the season with a 5.88 ERA with 30 strikeouts
  • Struck out a season-high nine batters on April 14 vs. the Cubs
  • Pitched in five games (four starts) during spring ball, going 1-3 with a 5.79 ERA (12 ER/18.2 IP) with 13 strikeouts against just two walks…held a 1.13 WHIP


  • Last faced the club on May 9, 2022, hurling 5.1 innings and giving up one run, one walk and one home run and sitting down seven en route to the win
  • Has faced the Rays twice in his career for a 1-1 record with a 5.79 ERA (6 ER/9.1 IP) in two games…struck out 13 against three walks


SERIES VICTORY — Tampa Bay earned a series victory over Toronto with yesterday’s 6-3 win, taking three of four from the Blue Jays…RHP Zach Eflin matched a season high with 7.0 innings, allowing one run on six hits and two walks…LF Randy Arozarena (2- for-3, 2RBI, R, BB, SB) registered his team-leading 17th multi-hit effort of the season…SS Wander Franco (1-for-2, 3B, 2R, 2BB, 2SB) stole his team-best 16th and 17th bases, while recording his 10th career triple…he became the sixth player (seventh occurrence) in Rays history to have a triple and two steals in a game (last Mallex Smith on 8/1/18 vs. LAA).

Eflin became the fourth pitcher in Rays history to throw 7.0+ innings without a strikeout, joining Mark Hendrickson (7.1IP on 4/9/04 vs. BAL), Joe Kennedy (8.0 IP on 8/15/02 vs. CLE) and Albie Lopez (7.0 IP on 4/29/ 01 at DET)…it marked the first time Tampa Bay won while striking out one batter or fewer in a game since 9/4/11 at Baltimore (1SO).

Tampa Bay stole seven bases, including multiple steals from Taylor Walls (2), Luke Raley (2) and Wander Franco (2)…it marked the first game in club history in which three Rays recorded multiple stolen bases.

HOME FIELD ADVANTAGE — Tampa Bay’s 24-5 record at Tropicana Field marks MLB’s best 29-game start at home since the 2008 Boston Red Sox (24-5)…the Rays are the third team in the Wild Card Era (since 1995) to win 24 of their first 29 home games, joining the 2008 Red Sox and 1998 New York Yankees (24-5).

Tampa Bay hitters rank among MLB leaders at home in several categories, including extra-base hits (1st, 110), stolen bases (1st, 33), infield hits (T1st, 51), homers (2nd, 49), SLG (2nd, .487), OPS (3rd, .830), walks (3rd, 102) and runs per game (5th, 5.69).

START ME UP — Rays starters have pitched to a 2.25 ERA (48.0IP, 12ER) over their last 10 games, holding opponents to a .218 average (39-for-179) with 40 strikeouts, nine walks and a .579 OPS in that span…it marks the second-lowest ERA by any major league rotation in that timeframe (since 5/16), behind Texas (1.88); the Rays rotation also ranks among MLB leaders in walks (1st), WHIP (1st, 1.00), opp. OPS (1st) and extra-base hits (2nd, 9) in that span.

MERRY-GO-ROUND — The Rays 85 walks during the month of May are tied for the most in the AL with New York-AL…Randy Arozarena has drawn a walk in 14 of his last 17 games — his 16 walks in that span (since 5/8) are tied with NYY Aaron Judge and SD Juan Soto for most in the majors…overall, Arozarena’s 17 walks in May are tied for fifth most in the majors.

INTERLEAGUE RUNDOWN — The Rays 11-4 (.733) mark against NL clubs signals the second best Interleague winning percentage in MLB behind New York-AL (7-2, .778)… following a seven-game losing streak from 6/28-8/10, 2022, Tampa Bay has won 13 of its last 17 Interleague matchups dating back to 8/30/22.

Rays pitching has recorded a 2.97 ERA (133.1IP, 44ER) against the NL, the third-lowest Interleague ERA in the majors…this includes a 1.93 ERA (70.0IP, 15ER) by Tampa Bay starters.

Rays hitters are slashing .270/.343/.508 with 31 homers against the NL…they pace the majors in Interleague SLG (.508) and OPS (.851).

BAG BANDITS — The Rays lead the majors in stolen bases (37) and stolen base attempts (44) during the month of May…Wander Franco paces the club with 11 steals this month (third most in MLB during May), followed by Luke Raley (6SB), Taylor Walls (6SB) and Josh Lowe (4SB)…the Rays have been successful on 24 of their last 26 stolen base attempts dating back to 5/14 at New York-AL.

The Rays have an MLB-best six players with 6+ steals (Wander Franco – 17SB, Taylor Walls – 11SB, Josh Lowe – 9SB, Randy Arozarena – 6SB, Manuel Margot – 6SB and Luke Raley – 6SB)…the next closest team is Cleveland with four players.

Tampa Bay has stolen seven bases twice this season (5/25 vs. TOR and 5/17 at NYM)…the last team to have multiple games with 7+ stolen bases in a season was the 1995 Houston Astros (2G).

GOING STREAKING — Yandy Díaz has a 19-game on-base streak since 4/27, slashing .354/.468/.677 (23-for-65) with 11 extra-base hits, 12 RBI, 12 walks and only 12 strikeouts in that stretch…it marks the second-longest streak of his career behind a 22-game run from 7/24-8/16, 2020…it is the third-longest active run in the AL behind MIN Byron Buxton (24G) and TEX Marcus Semien (22G).

Díaz has reached base safely in 29 of his last 30 games overall, going .352/.453/.620 (38-for-108) at the plate during that span…he leads all qualified major leaguers during that stretch (since 4/15) in batting average and OPS (1.073) while ranking second in OBP and third in SLG.

THE BAY BOMBERS — The Rays have hit a major league-best 97 home runs, the fifth-most long balls through a club’s first 52 games in MLB history (since 1901), trailing only the 1999 Seattle Mariners (107HR), 2019 Minnesota Twins (104HR), 2000 St. Louis Cardinals (100HR) and 2020 Los Angeles Dodgers (98HR).

The Rays have an MLB-best 28 multi-HR games, ahead of New York-AL (26G); they are 23-5 in those contests…this includes 16 games with 3+ homers, most in the majors ahead of Los Angeles-NL (14G); they had 13 games with 3+ HR in 2022.

The Rays have an MLB-best 11 players with 5+ home runs this season, ahead of four teams tied at eight players (ATL, BAL, SF, LAD)…they also have four players with 10+ homers, second most in the majors behind Atlanta (5).

ONCE UPON A TIME IN HOLLYWOOD—Tampa Bay and Los Angeles kick off a three-game set tonight…the last regular season series between the two clubs came in 2019, with the teams splitting four games.

Los Angeles leads the all-time series, 10-7, but has only outscored Tampa Bay by a total of six runs (90-84).

The Rays and Dodgers met in the 2020 World Series, with Los Angeles winning in six games…the clubs split the first four games of the 2020 Fall Classic before the Dodgers won Games 5 and 6 to claim the Commissioner’s Trophy.

RANDY LAND — For every Friday home game, fans can purchase tickets for Randy Land in section 141 for $49…tickets include a Randy T-shirt and if Arozarena hits a home run, fans in Randy Land receive a free Budweiser, Bud Light, soda or water.

RETIRING A RAY — Jake McGee will throw out the first pitch of tonight’s game to celebrate his retirement as a Ray…McGee appeared in a franchise-record 297 games from 2010-2015, going 21-11 with a 2.77 ERA (259.2IP, 80ER).

OPENING ACT — LHP Jalen Beeks will start tonight’s game as an opener with RHP Cooper Criswell scheduled to follow…will mark his sixth start of the season, including his third at Tropicana Field…has a 1.64 ERA (11.0IP, 2ER) in his five starts compared to a 7.07 ERA (14.0IP, 11ER) in 13 relief appearances.

FLIP THE SCRIPT — After going 0-2 with a 7.43 ERA (13.1IP, 11ER), eight walks and eight strikeouts over 10 games during April, Beeks has pitched to a 1-0 mark with a 1.54 ERA (11.2IP, 2ER), four walks, 14 strikeouts and a 0.94 WHIP over eight outings (3 starts) in May…during May, Beeks is holding opponents to a .167/.239/.262 (7-for-42) line…this comes after he allowed season highs in both hits (4) and runs (5) on 4/30 at Chicago-AL.

Beeks has not allowed a hit with RISP in May (0-for-9)…opponents are 2-for-20 (.100) against him with RISP on the season.

CALLING ON CRISWELL — The right-hander will make his sixth career appearance tonight, including his fourth of 2023…opponents are batting .217 (5-for-23) against him the first time through the order compared to .400 (10-for-25) the second and third times through…opposing hitters are 3-for-27 (.111) against him in two-strike counts.

LAST TIME OUT — Making his fifth career appearance in the big leagues on 5/21 vs. Milwaukee, Criswell took his first major league loss after entering in the third inning and working into the seventh (4.2IP, 8H, 5ER, BB, 3SO, 2HR)…surrendered a pair of two-run homers and set career highs in hits, runs, innings and pitches thrown (86).

WILD WEST — Tonight will mark his first career appearance against Los Angeles-NL…it will also mark his second career outing against an NL West club; he made his first career start on 8/27/21 vs. San Diego as a member of Los Angeles-AL (1.1IP, 6H, 3ER).

K’S FOR COOPER — In his season debut on 4/17 at CIN, Criswell entered in the fifth inning and fanned seven batters with zero walks (4.0IP, 4H, 4ER, 7SO, 2HBP)…he became the sixth Rays reliever to strike out 7+ batters without a walk, including the first since Robert Dugger on 5/1/22 vs. MIN (7SO, 0BB).

2023 RECAP — Criswell received a non-roster invitation to Rays Spring Training, turning in a 0.79 ERA (11.1IP, 1ER) over six appearances (2 starts) during Grapefruit League play…began the season with Triple-A Durham, going 0-1 with a 3.09 ERA (11.2IP, 4ER) in three appearances before the Rays selected his contract on 4/17…he made a pair of major league appearances before being optioned to Durham on 4/22…he was recalled again on 5/21 to begin his current stint with the Rays.

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