Thursday, June 13, 2024
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MLB Preview: Tampa Bay Rays (82-53) at Cleveland Guardians (65-70)

TAMPA BAY RAYS NOTES:

RAY REPORT — Tampa Bay continues a five-game, six-day road trip through Miami and Cleveland tonight at Progressive Field, having gone 2-1 thus far after seeing its four-game winning streak snapped yesterday…the Rays are 20-10 in their last 30 games, including wins in eight of 10, 10 of 13 and 13 of their last 18, following an MLB-worst 5-15 (.250) stretch from 7/1-26…they currently occupy the first AL Wild Card spot, leading Houston by 5.5 games and Texas by 6.5 games…Tampa Bay is 1.5 games behind first-place Baltimore in the AL East after spending 111 consecutive days atop the division from 3/30-7/19. Last night’s 3-2 loss snapped Tampa Bay’s streak of 18 consecutive wins when leading after six innings, marking its first such loss since 6/13 at Oakland…on the season, the Rays 60-5 (.923) record when leading after six innings is fourth best in the majors, trailing the Red Sox (.946), Orioles (.925) and Astros (.924).…prior to the defeat, the Tampa Bay had won seven straight and 11 of its last 12 games when scoring first. Tampa Bay has gone homerless in back-to-back games for the first time since a three-game drought from 6/17-20…the Rays have been held to 10 total hits in their last two games, their fewest in a two-game span since 7/22-23 (also 10H). The Rays have won nine of their last 10 series on the heels of a 2-7-2 performance in series play from 6/12-7/26…their 20-10 (.667) record during that span (since 7/28) is second best in the AL behind the Mariners (24-8, .750). Tampa Bay opens the month of September with 17 games in 17 consecutive days before its first of three off days during the month (9/18, 9/25, 9/28)…the Rays remaining opponents have a combined winning pct. of .538, the third-highest mark in the majors behind the Nationals (.552) and Cardinals (.548).

RECENT TRANSACTIONS — Earlier today, the Rays activated RHP Chris Devenski from the bereavement list and optioned LHP Jalen Beeks to Triple-A Durham…Devenski, 32, was released by the Angels on Tuesday (8/29) and signed a major league contract with the Rays after clearing waivers…the eighth-year veteran and 2017 AL All-Star pitched to a 5.08 ERA (33.2IP, 19ER) in 29 appearances with Los Angeles-AL this season…he turned in a 2.38 ERA over his first two major league seasons from 2016-17 and has since recorded a 5.38 ERA over his last five seasons (since 2018).

SERIES STUFF — Per Elias, the Rays have won six straight series for the first time since claiming six consecutive sets to open the 2019 campaign (3/31-4/18, 2019),…they are 13-5 during their current run, which began from 8/11-13 vs. Cleveland at Tropicana Field…Tampa Bay needs to win each of the next two games in order to claim a seventh consecutive series win for just the third time in franchise history — the club last turned the trick from 6/26-7/28, 2013 as part of a nine-series winning streak (including a one-game series on 7/29/13 at BOS)…the Rays record for most consecutive series wins is 10, accomplished from 7/30-8/31, 2008. The Rays have also won a club-record-tying six consecutive road series dating back to 7/28-30 at Houston, their second time accomplishing the feat in franchise history (also: 6/13-7/24, 2013)…this comes after Tampa Bay went 3-6-2 in their previous 11 road series from 5/8-7/19…the Rays 12-6 (.667) record on the road since 7/28 ranks third in the AL behind the Mariners (14-4, .778) and Astros (11-5, .688).

RISP MANAGEMENT — Tampa Bay batted an MLB-best .338 with runners in scoring position in August, outpacing Atlanta (.333)…it marked the Rays highest average with RISP in a single month in franchise history, surpassing May 2013 (.337)…Tampa Bay’s .286 batting average with RISP on the year leads MLB, ahead of Baltimore (.280)…it would mark a single-season franchise record, surpassing the 2005 Devil Rays (.285). Yandy Díaz’s .484 (15-for-31) average with RISP since the beginning of July leads the AL (min. 20AB), trailing only MIL William Contreras (.500) in all of MLB… Brandon Lowe is 11-for-20 (.550) with RISP over his last 24 games after going
2-for-19 (.105) in his previous 18 games from 6/3 (G2)-7/26…Josh Lowe is 5-for-11 (.455) in scoring situations over his last 12 contests.

FLASHING LEATHER — The Rays have not committed an error in their last nine games, their longest streak since a season-high 15-game run from 5/7-22…Tampa Bay is 6-16 over its last 24 games in which it committed at least one error compared to 15-4 in its last 19 error-free contests…the Rays .989 fielding pct. ranks third in the AL/fifth in the majors, while their 38 defensive runs saved rank second in the AL/fifth in MLB (FanGraphs).

IT TAKES A VILLAGE — Excluding position players, the Rays have used an MLB-leading 36 pitchers, ahead of the Dodgers and Athletics (35 each) and two shy of the club record set in 2021 (38)…the Rays have used only 18 position players, the fewest in MLB — Philadelphia (20) is next closest…overall, Tampa Bay’s 54 total players used are tied with Kansas City and Seattle for third most in the AL, trailing Oakland (58) and Boston (55).

RAYS IN THE LAND — The Rays return to Progressive Field for the first time since being swept by the Guardians in the 2022 AL Wild Card Series…including the postseason, Tampa Bay and Cleveland have played in seven straight one-run games in this ballpark, with the Rays going 1-6 in those contests, including five consecutive losses, and scoring two or fewer runs six times…the Rays are 22-17 at Progressive Field (excl. postseason) since snapping an 18-game losing streak from 9/29/05-7/23/10 — it remains the longest losing streak at a visiting ballpark in franchise history. The Rays are 4-7 in their last 11 meetings with the Guardians following a club-record 11-game winning streak over Cleveland from 5/25/19-7/24/21.

TONIGHT’S STARTER: RHP ZACK LITTELL (3-4, 4.45)
TONIGHT’S START — The sixth-year veteran makes his 10th start/23rd appearance tonight, including his sixth start/13th outing at home…this marks his eighth “true” start of the season after serving in an opener/ relief capacity to begin the year…has gone 3-3 with a 3.66 ERA (39.1IP, 16ER) in eight appearances (7GS) since the All-Star break, striking out 32 hitters while issuing just three walks.

LAST TIME OUT — Earned the win on 8/27 vs. New York-AL…tossed a career-high-tying 6.0 innings (3x, last: 8/10 vs. STL), allowing four runs on four hits and one walk with four strikeouts. His three home runs allowed matched a career high (also 3HR on 7/25/20 at CWS). Tossed a career-high 92 pitches in the outing, surpassing a previous high of 86 pitches set on 6/5/18 at CWS.

CLEAN AGAINST CLEVELAND — Littell is 3-0 in eight career relief appearances against the Guardians, tossing 11.2 scoreless innings while holding opponents to a .171 (6-for-35) average. He walked three batters across 2.0 innings on 7/30/20 vs. Cleveland…it marks one of only three career games in which Littell has surrendered 3+ walks (4BB on 6/5/18 at CWS and 4BB on 7/8/22 at SD).

NO FREE PASSES — Over his last 14 appearances spanning 50.0 innings, Littell has walked just three batters (Riley Greene, 8/4 at DET, Charlie Blackmon, 8/22 vs. COL and Anthony Volpe, 8/27 vs. NYY)…his 0.54 BB/9.0 IP during that span (since 6/21) is the lowest mark in the majors (min. 50.0IP), ahead of teammate Zach Eflin (0.86 BB/9.0IP)…over that timeframe, Littell has thrown 68.9 pct. of his pitches for strikes, the sixth-highest percentage in the AL (min. 400 pitches thrown) behind teammates Zach Eflin (70.9%) and Shawn Armstrong (69.6%), along with SEA George Kirby (69.8%), DET Tyler Holden (69.7%) and DET Tarik Skubal (69.1%). He joins TEX Brock Burke (54.1IP, 8BB) as the only pitchers in the majors this season to throw 50.0+ innings while allowing eight walks or fewer. His 3.3 pct. walk rate ranks in the 99th percentile among all MLB pitchers (Baseball Savant).

REVERSE, REVERSE — Littell has limited left-handed batters to a .221 (23- for-104) average, compared to a .305 (40-for-131) mark against right-handed hitters…for his career, he has held lefties to a .250 average compared to a .266 clip against righties.

SEPTEMBER SPOILS — In 36 career appearances (one start) in the month of September, Littell is 9-1 with a 3.42 ERA (47.1IP, 18ER). He has traditionally been at his best in the second half of the season — in his career, he is 2-5 with a 5.27 ERA (94.0IP, 55ER) in 82 appearances (5GS) before the All-Star break compared to 14-4 with a 3.09 ERA (128.0IP, 44ER) in 78 outings (7GS) following the break.

ODDS AND ENDS — He is 3-3 with a 3.92 ERA (41.1IP, 18ER) in eight starts this season and 0-1 with a 5.71 ERA (17.1IP, 11ER) in 13 relief appearances. Opponents are batting .310 (18-for-58) with four doubles, one triple and 3 HR against Littell when leading off an inning. He has limited opponents to a .136 (3-for-22) average with runners in scoring position and two outs. Is holding opponents to a .274 AVG the first time through the order compared to a .226 AVG the second time and .333 AVG the third time through.

CLEVELAND GUARDIANS NOTES:

7TH INNING RALLY SPURS GUARDS PAST RAYS
Coming off back-to-back series victories and a 4-2 road trip, the Cleveland Guardians opened a 6-game homestand with a crisp 3-2 victory over Tampa Bay on Friday night at Progressive Field… club has gone 13-10-4 over last 27 series (+2G above .500/44-42 record since May 26), needing one more win against the Rays to secure 3 straight series wins for the first time since ending the 2022 campaign with 5 consecutive series victories. Toeing the slab in a Guardians uniform for the first time since July 5, CAL QUANTRILL turned in a quality start (6.0IP, 2H, 2R-ER, 3BB, 2SO, WP, 86 pitches)…surrendered an RBI-double to Randy Arozarena in the 1st inning after issuing a one-out walk to Brandon Lowe…a 2-out walk to Jonathan Aranda also resulted in a run, as Rene Pinto capitalized with an RBI-double…MYLES STRAW helped put Cleveland on the board with a lead-off double to start the 3rd, later scoring on KOLE CALHOUN’s sac fly…the contest’s decisive offensive sequence came after ANDRÉS GIMÉNEZ singled to lead off the 7th and then stole 2nd base…GABRIEL ARIAS delivered the tying tally with a one-out RBI-single, followed by BO NAYLOR’s go-ahead, game-winning RBI-double to the gap in right-center field…all 3 tallies were charged to Tyler Glasnow (7.0IP, 7H, 3R-ER, 0BB, 6SO, 97 pitches)…EMMANUEL CLASE locked down his MLB-leading 37th save. Cleveland (65-70) sits in 2nd place in AL Central standings, 5.0 games behind 2nd-place Minnesota (70-65) & 4.0 games ahead of 3rd-place Detroit (-9.0G, 61-74)…despite winning 5 of last 7, Guardians have dropped 8 of 15, 19 of 32 and 64 of last 120 overall since starting year 9-6.

BULLPEN BITES
TREVOR STEPHAN (2.73 ERA, 18ER/59.1IP), EMMANUEL CLASE (2.90 ERA, 20ER/62.0IP) and ENYEL DE LOS SANTOS (2.95 ERA, 18ER/55.0IP) have all pitched 50.0+ innings and possess an ERA of 3.00-or-lower…Milwaukee (4) is the only other MLB team with 3-or-more relievers that fulfill such criteria…since July 18, Stephan is 2-0 with a 1.35 ERA (3ER/20.0IP), 24 strikeouts and 4 walks in 19 appearances…his 0.92 ERA at home this season ranks 2nd in MLB (min. 25.0IP), behind MIL’s Hoby Milner 0.91)… since August 15, Clase has converted all 6 of his save opportunities while holding a 1-0 record with a 1.04 ERA (1ER/8.2IP)…his 37 saves this season are 2 more than any MLB pitcher, and he is 3 saves from passing José Mesa (104) for 5th-most in club history… De Los Santos ranks among all MLB pitchers against right-handed hitters (min. 100 BF) in OPS (.448, 2nd), batting average (.133, 3rd) and SLG (.219, 3rd). The Guards have fared well in situations with inherited runners in 2023, as their 22.0% inherited runner score rate ranks 2nd in MLB behind Toronto (21.6%)…SAM HENTGES (2-for-25, 8.0%, 1st), NICK SANDLIN (4-for-35, 11.4%, 3rd) and De Los Santos (6-for-29, 20.7%, 8th) are the only trio in MLB to rank in the top 10 in IRS%…Hentges’ 14 consecutive scoreless appearances and 14.0 straight scoreless innings since July 29 are season-highs for a Cleveland pitcher this season, as his ERA has dropped from 6.43 to 4.43 (20ER/40.2IP) over that stretch…Sandlin is one of 5 AL relievers this season (min. 150AB) to have both lefties (.120, 6-for50) and righties (.197, 24-for-122) hitting under .200 against him.

YOU KNOW, BRO…
Entering today, JOSÉ RAMÍREZ is one home run away from tying Andre Thornton (214) for 8th-most in club history…Larry Doby (215) sits at 7th-most in franchise history, while Carlos Santana and Hal Trosky (216) are T6th-most…with 3 more RBI, he will tie Lou Boudreau (740) for 12th-most in club history. In 2023, the 30-year-old has 21 home runs and 21 steals, marking his fifth season of 20-or-more homers and 20-or-more steals…Ramírez’s 5 seasons of 20-or-more homers and steals are
the most in club history, ahead of Grady Sizemore (4), and tied for the most among active players with LAA’s Mike Trout…he ranks T10th in MLB history for most such seasons and he has turned the trick in each of his last 5 full seasons (2018-19, ‘21-23)…Ramírez (213 HR, 196SB) is also 4 stolen bases away from tallying 200+
home runs and stolen bases…if he steals 4 more bases before his birthday on September 17th, he would join Trout as the only active MLB players to join the 200-200 club at age 30-or-younger…would also be the 10th player in MLB history to join the 200-200 club at age 30-or-younger.

ALL ABOARD THE KOLE TRAIN!
KOLE CALHOUN has hit safely in 15 of his 21 games played with Cleveland…is hitting .263 (21-for-80) with 5 doubles, 3 home runs and 16 RBI during that stretch…since August 5, Calhoun ranks among Guardians hitters in RBI (16, 1st), runs (13, 1st), OBP (.341, 1st), total bases (35, T1st), OPS (.788, 2nd), hits (21, 2nd), home runs (3, T2nd), doubles (5, T2nd) and singles (13, T2nd). With a go-ahead/game-winning double on Sunday at Toronto and a go-ahead/game-winning home run on Wednesday at Minnesota, Calhoun (35 years, 323 days) became the oldest Cleveland hitter to produce a go-ahead or game-winning RBI in extra innings since Orlando Cabrera (36 years, 179 days) on April 30, 2011 vs. Detroit…he is also the oldest Cleveland hitter with a go-ahead or game-winning home run in extra innings since Ellis Burks (37 years, 312 days) on July 20, 2002 at Kansas City…Calhoun is the oldest Cleveland hitter with multiple go-ahead plate appearances in extra innings in a season since Kenny Lofton (40 years old) in 2007…he also had an 8-game hit streak from August 11-22, becoming the oldest Cleveland hitter to post a hit streak of 8-ormore games since Jim Thome (8 games, September 7-23, 2011) when he was 41 years old.

RUMBLE, YOUNG MAN, RUMBLE
Cleveland is the only MLB team to have 7 different rookies throw 25.0+ innings this season; TANNER BIBEE (124.2IP) LOGAN ALLEN (107.1IP), XZAVION CURRY (79.0IP), GAVIN WILLIAMS (65.0IP), HUNTER GADDIS (39.0IP) and PEYTON BATTENFIELD (34.2IP)…Cleveland is also the only team in MLB with a foursome of rookies to throw 65.0+ innings, ahead of Detroit who has 3…41.38% of Cleveland’s innings pitched this season (499.0IP/1206.0IP) have come via rookies, the highest rate in MLB ahead of Oakland (40.22%)…the Guards rookies rank amongst MLB clubs’ rookies in wins (24, 1st), games started (75, 1st), innings pitched (499.0, 1st) and strikeouts (452, 2nd). The Guardians 75 starts and 24 wins by rookie pitchers this season are the most in a single Cleveland season since at least 1947…the club’s 499.0 innings pitched and 452 strikeouts by rookies this season both are 2nd-most for a single Cleveland season, trailing 2021 (542.0IP, 571SO).

TONIGHT’S STARTER – #41 LOGAN ALLEN LHP
ALLEN AT HOME
W-L ERA G GS IP H R ER BB SO
2023 2-4 3.70 10 10 56.0 57 25 23 20 47
Career 2-4 3.70 10 10 56.0 57 25 23 20 47

ALLEN’S MLB CAREER
W-L ERA G GS IP H R ER BB SO
2023 6-7 3.61 20 20 107.1 104 45 43 41 102
Career 6-7 3.61 20 20 107.1 104 45 43 41 102

TONIGHT’S START
The 24-year-old southpaw is making his 21st career MLB start, 11th at home, in the second matchup of this 3-game series with the Tampa Bay Rays…over his last 5 starts at Progressive Field, he is 1-3 despite amassing a 2.89 ERA (9ER/28.0IP) with a .206 opposing batting average (21-for-102)…is making this start on 5 days’ rest; is 3-2 with a 4.17 ERA (27ER/58.1IP) in 11 starts on 5 days’ rest. Marks his first career start against Tampa Bay…in 4 starts against the AL East this season, he owns a 1-3 record with a 3.43 ERA (8ER/21.0IP), 23 strikeouts and 8 walks. Allen was originally selected by Cleveland in the 2nd round (56th overall) of the 2020 MLB Draft out of Florida International University…entered the season as Cleveland’s #8 prospect according to MLB.com.

LAST TIME OUT
Allen took the hill at the Rogers Centre in the second matchup of a 3-game series against the Toronto Blue Jays…he suffered his seventh loss of the year after allowing 5 runs (earned) on 6 hits with 2 strikeouts and one walk over 4.0 innings in an 8-3 loss… after a double from Whit Merrifield to lead off the game, Bo Bichette drove him in with an RBI-single…two batters later, Davis Schneider sent a 2-run home run over the center field wall, giving Toronto a 3-1 lead…Toronto would strike for 2 more in the 4th frame off an RBI-single from Matt Chapman and a sacrifice fly by Santiago Espinal…Allen would retire the next two batters he faced to end his day…marks his shortest start since working 3.2 innings against Kansas City on June 28.

GETTING IN THE EARLY WORK
Allen has had success the first time through the lineup…the lefty is holding opposing hitters to a .211 (34-for-161) average the first time through the lineup compared to a .256 (40-for-156) mark the second time through the order and a .315 (29-for-92) average the third time through the lineup. Through the first 3 innings in his starts this season, opposing teams are hitting .208 (46-for-221) against Allen, compared to a .305 clip (58-for-190) in the 4th-7th innings…through his first 60 pitches this season, Allen is holding opposing lineups to a .227 average (62-for-273) with 25 RBI…after 61 pitches, opposing batters are hitting .304 (42-for-138) with 20 RBI.

THE ALLEN WRENCH
Allen began his MLB career with 8 straight starts of 3-or-fewer runs allowed, becoming the third Cleveland pitcher with 8-or-more such outings to begin a career, joining Aaron Civale (9, 2019) and Cliff Lee (10, 2002-03)…joined Herb Score (1955) as the only 2 pitchers in franchise history with 8+SO in their first 2 career starts…became the third pitcher in Cleveland history with 6.0+IP, 8+SO and one-or-fewer earned runs in an MLB debut, joining

TRISTON McKENZIE and Luis Tiant…his 8 strikeouts rank T4th in a Cleveland MLB debut…Allen is one of 2 pitchers in MLB history to throw 4.1+IP, allow 2-or-fewer-walks, and throw 3+SO in each of their first 9 career games, joining Minnesota’s Louie Varland (12, 2022-23)…is one of 9 Cleveland rookie pitchers to reach 100
career strikeouts within their first 19 career starts.

RISP-Y BUSINESS
With runners in scoring position, opposing teams are hitting .209 (18-for-86) off of the lefty…with RISP and 2 outs, he’s holding opposing lineups to a .114 clip (4-for-35), and a .167 average (2- for-12) with the bases loaded…comparatively, with no runners on base, opposing hitters own a .258 average (60-for-233).

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