The Tampa Bay Rays are going after a series sweep of the Cincinnati Reds this afternoon. This series has been a pitching dominated one, both offenses have been held in check, but the Rays have gotten the big and the Reds have not. The Rays are led by their pitching, entering today’s they are among the major league leaders with a 2.55 ERA, allowing no more than one run in three of four games and only one through two contests in Cincinnati. They needed James Loney’s second-inning homer for a 1-0 win Saturday.
Alex Cobb, Jake McGee and Grant Balfour combined to hold the Reds to four hits and one walk. A day earlier, David Price limited them to four hits in 8 1-3 innings before Balfour recorded the final two outs in a 2-1 victory.
Tampa Bay will send out its long reliever for the series finale. Ramos has made four appearances this season, but manager Joe Maddon feels he’s capable of going longer Sunday. Well, with how horrible the Reds’ bats have been, he can do it.
“We felt like this was the right thing to do right now, given that opportunity. He’s been pitching well out of the bullpen for us in the brief time that he’s pitched with us this season,” Maddon told the team’s website. “I still believe he’s able to throw at least 75 pitches in a game.”
Ramos will make his fourth career start, second since the end of the 2009 season and first since throwing 2 2-3 scoreless innings in a 7-3 win at Philadelphia on June 24, 2012.
The left-hander has never faced the Reds (3-8), who have the worst record in the majors as their offense continues to struggle. They’re hitting .219 with only two homers while averaging 2.5 runs.
Jay Bruce is in a 2-for-22 slump, and rookie speedster Billy Hamilton is hitting .147 with just two steals but has dealt with a jammed left middle finger this week.
“We’re trying to stay aggressive,” first-year manager Bryan Price said. “You have to take advantage of your opportunities until you get on a roll.”
Price, whose team is 2 for 22 with runners in scoring position over the last three games, was part of a team meeting after Saturday’s loss.
“It was just a friendly reminder of what we’ve got here and who we are as a team,” catcher Brayan Pena said. “It was a very positive meeting. The skipper got involved.”
The Reds, off to their worst start since 1995, are 1-4 at home and seeking to avoid their worst start there since dropping six of seven to begin 1999.
Tony Cingrani will make his first start against Tampa Bay after back-to-back games against St. Louis. He gave up two hits over seven innings and struck out nine in a 1-0 home win April 2 but struggled at Busch Stadium on Monday. The left-hander needed 88 pitches to get through four innings in the 5-3 loss, giving up three runs and three hits while walking four.
First pitch is at 1:10pm, TV: FSN OHIO, RADIO: 700 WLW.