ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. – After settling for a four-game series split with the Blue Jays, the Rays went into Monday’s off day right where they were when the series began: second in the American League wild-card chase and two games behind Toronto.
The Rays, who did not slip to third in the wild card standings thanks to Seattle blowing a nine-run lead at Kansas City on Sunday, embark on a season-ending, nine-game road trip with a magic number of five. That could be whittled to four depending on the outcome of Monday night’s game between the Orioles and Red Sox in Boston.
Baltimore, which lost in 10 innings to the Astros on Sunday, is four games behind the Mariners and 4.5 half in arrears of the Rays (84-69) and with shrinking playoff hopes.
The Rays, who concluded the home portion of their 25th season by going 51-30 at the Trop, commence a three-city trip in Cleveland on Tuesday night with Corey Kluber taking the mound. The three-game series will be followed by three in Houston and three in Boston.
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There is no telling how things will shake out. However, the Rays are at least in control of their fate.
“We control our own destiny,” said Taylor Walls, following Sunday’s 7-1 loss to the Blue Jays at Tropicana Field. “Not winning (Sunday) hurts a little bit. At the same time, we have enough games ahead of us. If we play well enough, I am pretty confident that we will be where we want to be. We know we have a tough road schedule coming up. We’re ready for it.”
The Rays are ready to welcome back Tyler Glasnow, who last pitched in an MLB game in June 2021 and appears ready to return after working his back from Tommy John surgery. Manager Kevin Cash indicated prior to Sunday’s game that the 6-foot-8 righthander is in line to start Wednesday and with a limit of about 45 pitches.
“We’re pretty confident he will be starting for us on Wednesday,” said the skipper. “We will keep him on a five- or six-day plan and we will continue to see how the buildup goes.”
Prior to Sunday’s game Cash also said that Yandy Diaz (sore shoulder) was “more available” for the series finale against Toronto. While the third baseman did not play, Cash expects him to be in the lineup Tuesday.
Wander Franco, who takes a 12-game hitting streak to Cleveland, left Sunday’s game after “jamming his left hand” when flying out to left field in the fifth, according to Cash. Miles Mastrobuoni pinch-hit for Franco in the eighth, though Cash said the shortstop is “fine” and would have remained in the game had the score been tighter.
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Whether the Rays return to the Trop next week for playoff baseball is something that will be determined on the road.
“We have to find a way to keep playing good baseball and winning games,” said Cash.
Sunday’s announced crowd of 16,394 gave the Rays a season attendance figure of 1,128,127. That’s an average of 13,927 for the 81 home dates.