ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — The Rays have done well, especially given a slew of injuries, to this point. With Wednesday’s 5-4 win over the Marlins, they improved their record to 26-17, moving to a season-best nine games over .500 and on pace for 98 wins.
Now, they move on to the first round of what may be the main event of their season, playing the first four of 19 games against the Yankees, who to this point have been the beasts of the American League East, taking a majors-best 30-13 record and 4½-game division lead into play Wednesday.
“They’ve been off to a great start,” said Rays lefty Ryan Yarbrough, who is slated to work the bulk of the innings in Thursday’s series opener. “Obviously, a great team, added some great pieces.
“So we understand what we’re going to get into. It’s always a battle with them, especially these last couple years. And like I said, everyone in the division improved, so it’s going to be a dogfight. We’re looking forward to it.”
Wednesday, the Rays got off to a great start, scoring five in the first, their most prolific opening frame in a year (since May 24, 2021), and looked to be in good shape with Drew Rasmussen on the mound before an announced crowd of 7,520.
Kevin Kiermaier got them started again, this time with a walk, then scored on a double dropped down the leftfield line by Wander Franco, who had been in an 0-for-12 and 2-for-40 skid.
Yandy Diaz, back in the lineup for the first time since leaving Saturday’s game with a left shoulder strain, drew a walk.
An out later, Randy Arozarena, who took batting practice during the afternoon with soccer-playing younger brother Raiko, the Rowdies’ goalkeeper, laced a double to left.
Harold Ramirez, who was homerless through Sunday, drove the next pitch over the leftfield fence, giving him two in two nights against his former team.
But Rasmussen let the Marlins back in during a rough fourth.
Jorge Soler led off with a home run, then Rasmussen allowed three more consecutive hits, singles by ex-Ray Avisail Garcia and Brian Anderson, then a two-run double by Jacob Stallings.
Rasmussen was done after five, and four relievers teamed to finish for the Rays, with Colin Poche working the ninth, allowing one run before striking out Jesus Aguilar with the bases loaded to end the game.©2022 Tampa Bay Times. Visit tampabay.com. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.