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Rays seek to rebound from balk-off loss to Reds

Sportsnaut
Jul 8, 2022; Cincinnati, Ohio, USA; Tampa Bay Rays relief pitcher Matt Wisler (37) reacts being called for a balk that led to giving up the winning run to the Cincinnati Reds in the tenth inning at Great American Ball Park. Mandatory Credit: David Kohl-USA TODAY Sports
Credit: David Kohl-USA TODAY Sports

The visiting Tampa Bay Rays will attempt to regroup Saturday after losing the opener of their three-game series to the Cincinnati Reds on Friday night in unusual fashion.

Reliever Matt Wisler balked home the winning run in the bottom of the 10th in a 2-1 Cincinnati win when home plate umpire Edwin Moscoso ruled Wisler moved his glove.

“They said he flinched,” Rays manager Kevin Cash said. “They said it was a balk. Yeah, he was surprised. I was surprised. We all were surprised.”

The Rays fell to 5-4 on their 11-game road trip that ends this weekend in Cincinnati.

The Rays will send right-hander Drew Rasmussen (5-3, 3.30 ERA) to the mound in the middle game of the three-game series. In his most recent start in Game 2 of a doubleheader at Toronto a week ago, Rasmussen returned from a left hamstring strain to make his first start since June 10.

Rasmussen earned a no decision in the win against Toronto, allowing two runs (one earned) and five hits over 4 2/3 innings, his ninth start of two runs or fewer this season.

The right-hander has a 4.88 ERA over his past five starts, compared to a 2.33 ERA in his first eight starts this season.

Rasmussen will be facing the Reds for the second time in his career, making his first start against Cincinnati. The righty faced the Reds in relief on Sept. 21, 2020, at Great American Ball Park, allowing four eighth-inning runs on two homers, including a three-run blast by Mike Moustakas.

The Reds will counter with right-hander Hunter Greene (3-10, 6.01), who will be making the 17th start of his rookie season.

The 22-year-old is going through growing pains, losing his past three starts, including last Monday against the New York Mets. Greene was tagged with six runs on seven hits and surrendered another two home runs to the Mets. Greene leads the majors in homers allowed with 22.

The Reds could be getting one of their biggest and best pieces back Saturday as catcher Tyler Stephenson might be activated off the injured list. Stephenson was behind the plate catching on June 9 against Arizona when he took a foul ball off his throwing hand that broke his right thumb.

Stephenson began a rehab assignment at Triple-A Louisville on Monday.

Stephenson’s return comes as his backup, Aramis Garcia, went on the injured list on Thursday with an injured left middle finger. Garcia was initially injured on June 28 during catcher’s interference. He took a foul ball off the glove the next day and then caught Greene’s fastball on Monday and felt discomfort.

“He did everything he could to try to play through that,” Reds manager David Bell said. “There’s a lot to be said for that. Maybe I should have taken it out of his hands earlier, but there’s a lot to be said for what he tried to do, and I didn’t want to take that away from him. But he’s in severe pain. The good thing is it just needs to rest now, and he’ll be back sooner than later.”

Yandy Diaz doubled and scored in the third inning Friday, extending his hitting streak to 12 games. During the streak, Díaz is hitting .457 with eight multi-hit games.

“You can’t get a hit every day, but the confidence is there when you do get a few hits, and then hopefully you can just carry that forward on,” Diaz said.

–Field Level Media