ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. – Drew Rasmussen has been on a roll for the Rays. Friday night’s outing against the Blue Jays marked the fourth straight start in which the 26-year-old righthander went at least five innings and allowed no more than one run.
The last Tampa Bay pitcher to have a stretch of four such starts was Tyler Glasnow in April 2021.
Rasmussen, who arrived from Milwaukee last May with J.P. Feyereisen in a deal that sent Willy Adames to the Brewers, had to settle for a no-decision in the Rays’ 5-2 win. That snapped a personal three-game win streak. Still, he is 3-0 with a 1.25 ERA during a run that started April 27 at Seattle.
In that late-April outing against the Mariners, the team the Washington native grew up rooting for, Rasmussen logged career-highs with six innings and nine strikeouts. By contrast, he struck out only one batter in 5 2/3 innings against Toronto. Thanks in part to a cutter/slider combination pitch that he has been throwing this season, a powerful Blue Jays’ lineup had trouble making solid contact.
“It’s a pitch that creates weak contact, so we have a lot of confidence in it,” said Rasmussen, in referring to catchers Mike Zunino and Francisco Mejia. “The ability to throw it in the strike zone has really helped me out the last couple of outings.”
Rasmussen, who underwent Tommy John surgery while at UNLV in 2015 and again in 2018 after being drafted by the Brewers, is still getting stretched out. He did not become a regular in the Rays’ rotation until last August and topped out at five innings.
Rasmussen credits much of his success to the coaching and support staffs.
“They do a really good job of evaluating talent here and letting you know what makes you successful,” he said. “Our game plan is pretty simple: fill it up early and use your weapons to get outs late. I have strung together a few good starts this year, and a couple of good ones to end last year, so it is hard not to be confident right now.”
Bad hammy: Manny Margot was placed on the 10-day injured list Sunday with a strained right hamstring. This comes at a time when he has been scorching at the plate. In Saturday night’s 5-1 loss to the Blue Jays, the 27-year-old outfielder had a pair of singles in three at-bats to extend his career-best hitting streak to 11 games. He is hitting .486 (18-for-37) during the streak to lift his average to .348. His 21 RBI, 14 of which have come in the eighth inning or later, lead the team.
“I think it’s getting better,” said Margot, who has been bothered by the hamstring for few days. “I think with the time off they are going to give me it will help me, but I am definitely feeling better.”
Pitcher Ralph Garza Jr. was recalled from Triple-A Durham for his third stint with the Rays.
Snapping out of it: Wander Franco and Ji-Man Choi both halted 0-for-18 skids in Sunday’s 3-0 win against Toronto. Franco (1-for-4) singled off Alek Manoah and scored in a three-run sixth against the big righthander. Choi’s single scored Harold Ramirez with the third run.
“Nobody wants to go that long without getting a hit,” said Franco, who heads into Monday’s action having gone eight games without driving in a run and 17 without a homer. “It’s part of the game, to struggle a little bit.”
Franco is hitting .241 (13-for-54) in May.
“He has probably expanded (the strike zone) a couple of times,” said manager Kevin Cash. “But saying that, he’s also squared some balls up. I think he’s totally fine and he will get going.”
Stretching Springs: Jeffrey Springs has started three of his last four games and, in Sunday’s 3-0 win over the Blue Jays, he went 4 2/3 innings on 76 pitches. Both are career highs and topping the four innings and 57 pitches in his previous start (May 9) at Anaheim.
“That is kind of the goal, go as deep as possible and give us a chance to win,” said the lefty, who allowed four hits, struck out two and did not walk a batter. “I want to do well enough to make a case for myself. Obviously, running me out there says that they believe in me to do it, so I am going to do everything that I can to continue to run with it.”
Welcome back, Austin: The six-game homestand continues Monday night when Tigers come to the Trop for a three-game series. That means the return of Austin Meadows, who was dealt to Detroit on April 5 for Isaac Parades and a draft pick. Meadows is hitting .267 with 11 RBI in 28 games. He has yet to homer with his new team.
The Tigers, 12-23 and last place in the AL Central, will send former Florida Gator and Tampa native Alex Faedo to the mound Monday (6:40). The 6-foot-5, 26-year-old righthander made his MLB debut earlier this month. The Rays (21-14) will go with Corey Kluber.
On Tuesday (6:40), it will be Shane McClanahan against another Detroit rookie, Beau Brieske, and Wednesday afternoon (1:10) Drew Rasmussen will be opposed by Eduardo Rodriguez.