An unscheduled two-day vacation in May over, the Miami Marlins are back in business tonight against the Tampa Bay Rays.
The shining star of the Miami Marlins rotation gets the first start of their mini-two-game series against the Rays tonight. Caleb Smith (3-0, 2.11) will face off against RHP Charlie Morton (3-0, 2.64) in the opener. José Ureña is scheduled to pitch the closer on Wednesday. Can the Marlins somehow win one or even both of these games against the 24-15 American League East-leading Rays? According to our own David Levin, Smith has it in his power to turn the tide:
"Smith has been the one constant pitcher in the Marlins rotation that has done anything worth noting of late. He continues to get better with each outing, shows great command on the mound and has struck out batters in quick time."
Josh Roeder, called up for a single start with the New Orleans Baby Cakes in the triple-A Pacific Coast League, was sent back to the double-A Jacksonville Jumbo Shrimp in the Southern League. That’s all the transactions the Marlins had over the past two days.
The Miami Marlins have faced no A.L. opponent more often than they have the Tampa Bay Rays. Originally the Tampa Bay Devil Rays and the Florida Marlins, these two have both been rebranded in their short histories, and the Marlins twice. In 113 contests, the Rays hold a slight 57-to-56 edge that the Marlins can turn over the next two days. In their first matchup, on June 22nd, 1998, the defending Major League Champion 25-50 Marlins took a 3-2 decision over the nascent 31-43 Rays at Tropicana Field. Jesus Sanchez pitched a Quality Start, striking out four over 6 2/3 innings, allowing two runs on eight hits and four walks. Antonio Alfonseca earned the win in extras, pitching two shutout frames. Todd Zeile potted the game-winner in the top of the 12th, scoring Edgar Renteria on a foul pop fly to the first base side.
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Last season between the two, the Marlins won four-of-six. In their last meeting, on July 22nd, the 50-49 Rays topped the 43-58 Marlins 6-4 behind a 13 strikeout performance from Chris Archer. Trevor Richards earned no decision in that one, striking out six and allowing one run on three hits over 6 2/3 innings.
In tonight’s game, my pick for tonight’s Marlins hero is Starlin Castro. Although not a traditionally slow starter, Castro hasn’t exactly set the world on fire to start his 2019. Slashing .232/.282/.298 while appearing in every game so far for Miami, he’s due to break towards his career marks of .280/.320/.408.
What will Chapters 114 and 115 between the in-state rivals look like? That part of the book has yet to be written, and that’s why they keep playing the games.
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