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Thurman Thomas Jersey - _ThuAMCETECET0NovE ST. PETERSBURG Authentic P.K Subban Jersey , Fla. — The Tampa Bay Rays might be the surprise hottest team in baseball, and if anything can slow them down, it might be Washington Nationals starter Max Scherzer, who takes the mound against them Tuesday.

The Rays have been dominant of late, with seven wins holding opponents to one or zero runs in the last 13 games, and four wins in a row after a 11-0 drubbing of the Nationals on Monday. Tampa Bay didn’t hold an opponent under two runs once in its first 19 games and just once in its first 38, but their patchwork pitching has been a major impetus to their recent surge.

Then there’s Scherzer, who is 10-3 with a 2.09 ERA, this despite a near-mortal stretch where he has no wins in his last three outings, having allowed all of six earned runs in 20 innings during that stretch. The Rays remember him well from June 5, when he struck out 13 batters — matching his second-highest total of 2018 — while allowing two earned runs in eight innings. He’s had 16 starts this season, and he’s only allowed more than two runs once, and only four in that blemish.

For his career against the Rays, he’s 5-2 with a 2.82 ERA, and even that is notable in that he went 0-2 as a rookie in 2010 and hasn’t lost since. For the season, just slightly less than half his outs have come by strikeout, with 161 strikeouts in 107 2/3 innings.

The Rays will counter with Nathan Eovaldi (1-3, 4.91 ERA) Authentic Ryan Johansen Jersey , who has made five starts since returning from Tommy John surgery, with one dominant debut and then four starts since where he’s averaged four earned runs in less than six innings. More of a concern is the home runs he’s allowed — eight in 29 1/3 innings, including four in his last start, a 5-1 loss to Houston.

He’s faced the Nationals once this year, giving up four runs on four hits in five innings in the game against Scherzer on June 5. Eovaldi got his start in the National League, so he’s had 10 starts against Washington, going 2-5 with a 5.30 ERA.

An 11-run outburst like Monday’s win shows the Rays might be finding their bats as well, with Kevin Kiermaier, struggling at the plate since returning from the disabled list, getting a key grand slam as part of a six-run second inning.

“Baseball is hard. It’s really hard,” Kiermaier said of his slow start. “Adjusting back to big-league pitching is not an easy thing. Trying to get acclimated up there at the plate again. I felt really good and it was a good momentum swing for our team to put us up early.”

The Nationals will at least be better rested on Tuesday — after a long rain delay that pushed back their Sunday night game against Philadelphia, they didn’t get to their hotel in St. Petersburg until 4:40 a.m. on game day.

“We’re a little tired, but we had all day to rest,” Nationals manager Davey Martinez said.

NEW YORK — The Tampa Bay Rays have become one of baseball’s most pleasant surprises since implementing an unusual wrinkle into their starting rotation. But possessing a true old-fashioned ace atop their rotation hasn’t stopped the New York Mets from enduring one of the worst runs in their history.

Two teams heading in unexpectedly different directions will begin a rare three-game series Friday night when the Mets host the Rays at Citi Field.

It will be just the second time the Rays play the Mets at Citi Field since the stadium opened in 2009, though Tampa Bay played three “home games” against the New York Yankees at Citi Field last September after Hurricane Irma hit the gulf coast of Florida.

Right-hander Ryne Stanek (1-2, 1.98 ERA) is scheduled to serve as the “opener” for the Rays against Mets ace Jacob deGrom (5-4, 1.84).

Both teams were off Thursday after completing brief two-game interleague series on Wednesday when the Rays fell to the host Miami Marlins 3-0 and the visiting Mets beat the Toronto Blue Jays 6-3.

Despite falling to .500 with the loss, the Rays (43-43) received what has become a standard strong pitching effort. Tampa Bay has the lowest ERA in the majors (2.81) since May 19 when it began utilizing an “opener” instead of a traditional starting pitcher in select games.

The Rays have allowed three runs or fewer 25 times in the subsequent 43 games Authentic Will Butcher Jersey , 23 of which have been started by relief pitchers typically pitching three innings or fewer.

Stanek will make his 10th start, by far the most among openers. He has a 1.42 ERA as a starter and has pitched longer than 1 2/3 innings just once.

Stanek has also contributed as a late-inning reliever in the last six weeks, which means he’ll take the mound Friday fresh off three decidedly different experiences.

After tossing a scoreless inning as a starter against the Houston Astros last Saturday, Stanek took the loss Monday when he allowed a run without getting an out as the Rays fell to the Marlins 3-2 in the 10th inning before he tossed two hitless innings in Tuesday’s 9-6, 16-inning win.

“Ryne’s thrown the ball so well for us in that opener role,” Rays manager Kevin Cash told reporters after the loss Monday. “He’s done some good things in the later innings.”

Nobody in baseball is doing a better job of things during traditional starter’s innings than deGrom, who leads the majors in ERA despite suffering from almost inconceivable bad luck. DeGrom has a 1.42 ERA in his last 13 starts, during which the Mets have gone 3-10 and deGrom is 3-4.

DeGrom’s misery is par for the course for the Mets (34-49), who have gone 7-22 since June 1 and are just 23-48 since an 11-1 start.

“I’m tired of losing to be honest — everybody else in here I’m sure is,” deGrom told reporters Saturday when he took the loss after allowing three runs in six innings as the Mets fell to the Marlins 5-2. “That’s not what we want to do. We came in here to win baseball games and we’re not doing that. We have to find a way to do that.”

With the Mets buried in the postseason race, deGrom has been the subject of trade rumors, though SNY reported Thursday that it appears he will stay with the team through at least the end of the season.

New York, which has a three-headed general manager setup after Sandy Alderson went on an indefinite leave of absence last week in order to battle a recurrence of cancer, is expected to hire a new general manager in the offseason.

Stanek has never faced the Mets. DeGrom didn’t factor into the decision in his only previous career start against the Rays on Aug. 7, 2015, when he gave up two runs in 6 1/3 innings in New York’s 4-3 victory.
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