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Rays look to run, slug their way to series sweep


The Tampa Bay Rays bring their power-and-speed combination to Kauffman Stadium looking for a series sweep in Sunday’s finale against the host Kansas City Royals

With 137 homers and 111 stolen bases, the Rays led the American League in both categories at the All-Star break, becoming the sixth team in league history to do so and first since the 2015 Astros. The 137 homers are the most ever by Tampa Bay at the break, and the 111 steals are their second most

They added three more home runs and a steal while sweeping Saturday’s doubleheader.

One of seven Rays players with at least 11 home runs, Jose Siri leads the club with 18 after drilling a pair of solo shots as Tampa Bay took a 6-1 victory in Saturday’s opener

“I’ve been striking out quite a bit,” said Siri, who broke out of a 2-for-26 slump. “Everyone knows that, but it felt good to be able to connect on those two. I just try to make contact. Sometimes the balls are going to go, and sometimes they’re not.”

Right-handers Zach Eflin (10-4, 3.25 ERA) and Brady Singer (5-8, 5.80) will match up on Sunday afternoon.

Allowing two runs over five innings, Eflin won his most recent start, July 9 against the Braves, snapping the Rays‘ seven-game losing streak

Eflin has won both previous starts against Kansas City, posting a 1.80 ERA over 15 innings, including a four-hit shutout in 2019. As the clubs split a four-game series three weeks ago, Eflin won his June 23 start, pitching six innings and surrendering three runs on homers to Salvador Perez and Nick Pratto.

Perez escaped a 4-for-43 slump in a big way, recording five hits in Saturday’s doubleheader, including a double in the first game for his 500th career extra-base hit. He is the sixth player in Royals‘ history with 500 extra-base hits and one of 28 active major leaguers to reach the milestone

In three career starts against Tampa Bay, Singer is 0-1 with a 5.52 ERA. With two hits in seven at-bats, Taylor Walls has the most experience against Singer, who last faced the Rays with two six-inning outings last year, combining for 19 strikeouts

Singer will try to rebound from his last outing, July 8 in Cleveland, when the Guardians pounded him for 13 hits and six runs over five innings of a 10-6 loss. He is 1-4 in his last six starts.

Singer leads Royals pitchers with five wins and is one of two starters who haven’t missed a turn in Kansas City’s rotation as the Royals have used a major-league-high 16 different starting pitchers, with Cole Ragans — recently acquired from Texas in a deal for Aroldis Chapman — becoming the latest with his start in the second game of Saturday’s doubleheader

Bobby Witt Jr. has hit safely in 11-of-12 games since June 30, with eight extra-base hits, including one in each of his last five games.

“I think it’s just seeing more pitches and being on time,” Witt explained. “Hitting’s timing. If you’re on time, you can hit anything.”

–Field Level Media


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