With all the focus on the Tampa Bay Lightning, the Tampa Bay Rays are quietly putting some wins together and starting to separate themselves from the rest of the teams in the American League East.
Drew Rasmussen pitched five innings of shutout ball while striking out seven as the Rays cruised to a 6-1 win at Tropicana Field Wednesday afternoon.
Manager Kevin Cash talked about what Rasmussen brings to the Rays rotation. “Yeah, he’s been pretty spectacular. The performance, the build-up, getting there, the efficiency, even though his pitch count got driven up a little bit. That’s why he only went five innings, but not nitpicking at all.”
“He’s really, really good at limiting damage, and he’s excelled in this role as a starter. I think we’re fortunate that we had the opportunity to build him up last year.”
Since joining the rotation last summer, Rasmussen is 7-1 with a 1.90 ERA.
The Rays bullpen shut down the Tigers the rest of the way as Matt Wisler, Colin Poche, and JP Fereyeisen limited the Tiger’s offense.
Rookie infielder Isaac Paredes hit two home runs, both solo shots, to help the Rays take down the Tigers in the matinee affair.
Paredes has surprised everyone since his call-up from Durham, hitting .280 with two homers and four runs batted in 25 at-bats. Paredes came to the Rays from the Tigers in the Austin Meadows trade.
Paredes has more homers than Austin Meadows this season with Detroit.
Yandy Diaz had three hits in the win, as the Rays won for the fifth time in their last seven outings.
On Tuesday night, Shane McClanahan turned in another top-notch performance, as he struck out seven and gave up one run in seven innings. McClanahan lowered his ERA to 2.33 on the season.
McClanahan is quickly putting himself in early contention for the Cy Young Award.
With the win, the Rays are a season-high eight games over .500 for the second time.
The Rays starters have been lights out in their last seven games, posting a 1.15 ERA, while the entire pitching staff has a 1.97 ERA.
The Rays have a three and a half-game lead on third place Toronto but trail the Yankees by five and a half games. The Yankees have won 22 of 25 and are the hottest team in baseball.
The Rays are off on Thursday before a short trip to Baltimore to play the Orioles this weekend. Jalen Beeks/Ryan Yarbrough, Jeffrey Springs, and Corey Kluber are expected to start for the Rays against the Orioles.
–In other Rays news, pitcher Shane Baz will begin a rehab assignment at Durham on Thursday. He could be back with the Rays sometime in mid-June if all goes well.
The Rays would then have a rotation of Kluber, Rasmussen, McClanahan, and Baz. Potentially one of the best in baseball.
–Second basemen Brandon Lowe will be out at least a month with a stress reaction in his lower back.
Lowe initially felt some discomfort on the west coast trip, and it did not get any better upon returning home. Lowe will be put on a rest and rehab program and will be shut down from any baseball activities for three weeks. Lowe will then be re-evaluated to see if he has progressed enough to begin a rehab assignment.
Lowe is one of the Ray’s most prolific offensive players on this offensively challenged team. Lowe leads the team with five home runs this season.
Taylor Walls, Vidal Brujan, and Isaac Paredes will fill at second in Lowe’s absence.