MLB-best road team Rays face struggling Rangers in Texas

Sports

After splitting four games in the Bronx with the New York Yankees, the Tampa Bay Rays travel to Arlington, Texas, where they will start a three-game series with the Texas Rangers on Friday.

Even with dropping games in New York on Tuesday and Wednesday, the Rays top the majors with a 21-9 road mark. They hold a stellar 19-5 road record since April 16 and have outscored the opposition 160-91 during that span.

Tampa Bay skipper Kevin Cash wasn’t deterred by the twin defeats in the middle of the series. The Rays are 10-3 in their past 13 games in Yankee Stadium against their American League East rival.

“We’re playing really good baseball,” Cash said after Wednesday’s 4-3 loss. “If we’re going to dwell on the last two games, we should dwell on the last 20 — and we’ve done some really special things.”

That they have.

May turned out to be the best month in club history, as the first-place Rays went 22-6 and climbed to the top of the AL East standings behind an 11-game winning streak that grew from May 13-24.

Also, 41-year-old Rich Hill was named the AL Pitcher of the Month after posting an 0.78 ERA in six starts (34 2/3 innings). The southpaw struck out 36 while holding opponents to a .145 batting average and walking 12.

Starter Ryan Yarbrough went the distance in a 9-2 win in the series finale Thursday in New York, breaking a streak of 731 straight contests without a complete game by a Rays hurler.

Matt Andriese fired the last one in a two-hit shutout on May 14, 2016, in a 6-0 home victory against the Oakland Athletics.

The club’s complete-game futility was the longest streak in major-league history. The Toronto Blue Jays now own the active streak at 231 starts.

Left-hander Josh Fleming (5-3, 2.98 ERA) will make his fifth start in the series opener in his second career appearance against the Rangers. He lost to them 5-1 on April 14 but allowed just one run — a solo homer to 2020 Rays teammate Nate Lowe.

Meanwhile, the Rangers are just looking to win.

Concluding a franchise-worst 0-9 road trip Thursday in Denver, Texas lost its ninth straight game by dropping an 11-6 decision to the Colorado Rockies. The defeat was its 15th consecutive road loss.

It is the longest road skid in the majors since the Miami Marlins lost 15 straight in 2019 and one off the franchise-record 16 set by the 1961 Washington Senators, per the Elias Sports Bureau.

However, in four April road meetings with the Rays, Texas came out on top three times and outscored the reigning AL champions by a 19-9 margin.

Rangers manager Chris Woodward said the answer might be just going home.

“Obviously, we’ve had our struggles on the road and our struggles in general,” Woodward said. “But going home will definitely be helpful for these guys. They’ll feel a little more comfortable in front of our home crowd, and we’ve played well there.”

Returning from a groin injury that landed him on the injured list in late May, Kyle Gibson (3-0, 2.24) will make his 12th start and 13th career appearance against the Rays.

He is 5-5 with a 4.71 ERA, with Tampa Bay hitters batting .276 against the right-hander.

–Field Level Media

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