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Jun 3, 2024 4:59 pm

Marlins, Rays hope to play above their pay grade in two-game set

jose siri

Two Florida teams with low payrolls and losing records are set to start a two-game series when the Tampa Bay Rays visit the Miami Marlins on Tuesday night.

The Marlins have the fifth-lowest payroll in the majors at $97.2 million, while the Rays are sixth-lowest at $101 million. Tampa Bay has a track record of doing more with less, making the playoffs five years in a row with two division crowns and one World Series appearance in that span.

But the Rays enter this series with a 29-31 record, putting their streak of success in jeopardy.

The Rays also haven’t won a playoff series since 2020, and it’s possible their small-market magic may be running out, at least for the moment.

Part of the problem is that the Rays play in a loaded division, headed by the New York Yankees and Baltimore Orioles. Tampa Bay avoided a three-game sweep at Baltimore on Sunday by beating the Orioles, 4-3.

The Rays went ahead in the eighth inning on Jose Siri’s two-run double. But that big blow came only after he tried three times to lay down a sacrifice bunt. On the first two pitches, he pulled his bat away. On the third, he missed.

“The way he looked on the (bunt attempts),” Rays manager Kevin Cash said, “we decided to take it off.”

That was a good decision, as Siri drilled his opposite-field shot off the wall in right-center, and the Rays produced their 16th comeback win of the season.

The Rays are tied with Detroit for the third-most comeback wins in the American League.

On Tuesday, the Rays will start right-hander Ryan Pepiot (3-2, 3.88 ERA). In his nine starts, the Rays are 5-4.

Pepiot has four quality starts this season, but they were all in April. He had a 3.12 ERA in April, but that number soared to 6.17 for the month of May.

Perhaps the Marlins will bring out the best in Pepiot, 26. In three career appearances (two starts) against Miami, he is 2-0 with a 1.50 ERA.

The Marlins, who have the worst record in the National League at 21-39, will start lefty Jesus Luzardo (2-4, 4.18 ERA). In nine starts with Luzardo pitching this season, the Marlins are just 3-6.

However, Luzardo is on a streak of three straight quality starts, posting a 1.35 ERA during that span.

Luzardo, though, has never beaten the Rays, going 0-2 with a 2.81 ERA in three career starts.

Greater woes exist on offense, as the Marlins haven’t scored since Friday’s 8-2 win over the Rangers. They were blanked by Texas on Saturday and Sunday.

“Back-to-back shutouts is not ideal,” Marlins manager Skip Schumaker said. “We lacked the big hit the past couple of games.”

Left fielder Bryan De La Cruz leads the Marlins with nine home runs, but has not hit one since May 15. Center fielder Jazz Chisholm Jr. leads Miami with 29 RBIs and is tied with first baseman Josh Bell for the lead in doubles (11). Chisholm is also second in homers (eight).

For the Rays, third baseman Isaac Paredes leads the team in homers (10) and RBIs (32). Shortstop Jose Caballero has a team-best 20 stolen bases.

–Field Level Media

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