ST. PETERSBURG, FL. – The Rays head into Monday night’s game in Anaheim having won six of seven during their 10-game trip west. The lone blemish was Sunday’s 2-1, 10-inning setback in Seattle.
As manager Kevin Cash said following Sunday’s game, one run is generally not going to get it done. Given how hot he has been, it is no surprise that Manny Margot was responsible for the Rays’ lone run. His eighth-inning home run gave him round-trippers in three straight games.
Margot’s pinch-hit, three-run homer in the ninth was the difference in Friday’s 8-7 win, and his first-career grand slam in the eighth inning Saturday broke open a two-run game in what was an 8-2 victory.
Punctuated by the three-game series in Seattle, Margot has been scorching hot so far in May. He enters play Monday hitting .464 (13-for-28) with 13 RBI in eight games. The 27-year-old outfielder has driven in a team-high 20 runs this season and he has at least one RBI in seven of eight games since the calendar flipped to May.
Margot, who has 83 at-bats, is tied for 12th in the majors in RBI. Those ahead him have anywhere from three to 33 more at-bats.
“With a team like this, you don’t know when you’re going to play,” Margot told reporters following Friday’s game. “If you don’t start, you’ve got to be ready to go at any given point in the game and you’ve got to be ready and prepare accordingly.”
Margot certainly seems prepared.
In a groove: Drew Rasmussen has won each of his last three starts. In so doing, the 26-year-old righty has allowed only eight hits and two earned runs in 16 innings while fanning 17. Two of the wins were against the Mariners, the team the Washington native grew up rooting for.
Rasmussen’s recent run of success is quite an about-face from his first three starts this season when he lost his only decision and allowed seven earned runs in 12 innings. Of course, starting pitchers spent the better part of April getting themselves stretched out. That was certainly the case with Rasmussen, who had all of 10 career starts coming into this season and whose longest outing was five innings.
Rasmussen, who is 3-1 with a 2.89 ERA and 0.96 WHIP on the season, logged a career-high six innings and nine strikeouts April 26 in his first outing against the Mariners.
Yarbs’ strong outing: After allowing three hits, three walks and five runs in the first inning of his first outing last Tuesday in Oakland, Ryan Yarbrough’s start Sunday was impressive. The southpaw, who missed the season’s first few weeks due to a groin injury, blanked Seattle over five innings and 68 pitches.
“Yarbs was really encouraging,” said Cash. “That was the highlight of our day, for him to get through five, be efficient.”
Given how well Rasmussen, Shane McClanahan and Corey Kluber have been pitching, a healthy and effective Yarbrough would make for a formidable quartet of true starting pitchers.
More than an opener: Jeffrey Springs gets the start Monday in Anaheim. Cash indicated the opportunity for the lefty is about more than just an inning or two as an opener. Springs was last used as a true starter in 2017 when he had 17 such appearances for the Rangers’ Class-A affiliate in the Carolina League before moving to the bullpen late in the season.
For the record, Springs was used as an opener with Texas twice in 2018 and with the Rays once this season. That was April 28 against Seattle at the Trop when he went 2 2/3 innings and allowed one run.
Heating up?: Randy Arozarena enters play Monday having yet to hit his first home run of 2022. He has only eight RBIs in 28 games and sports a paltry .264 on-base percentage thanks in large part to striking out 30 times while drawing only five walks. If the weekend series in Seattle was any indication, though, maybe Arozarena is this close to busting out.
In the three games against the Mariners, he went 6-for-13 (one double) and giving him something to show for stinging the ball pretty well the past couple of weeks.