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May 2, 2022 2:59 am

Rays face Athletics in search of answers

The Tampa Bay Rays are scrambling a bit as they begin a 10-game road trip on Monday with the first of three games against the Oakland Athletics.

Tampa Bay lost two of three over the weekend to the visiting Minnesota Twins and has scored three or fewer runs in six of its past nine games.

The Rays trailed 5-0 after the first inning of a 9-3 loss on Sunday and were held to a two hits over the first six innings by Twins rookie Josh Winder.

“We just went 5-4 on the homestand, and that’s not what we’re shooting for,” Tampa Bay manager Kevin Cash said. “We need to find a way to get on a run and get the offense going and give the pitchers some breathing room a little bit.”

Oakland is also looking to regroup after losing three straight to the Cleveland Guardians. The Athletics have dropped six of their past eight games and were limited to six hits in a 7-3 loss on Sunday.

The A’s and Rays met in St. Petersburg, Fla., from April 11-14, when Oakland took three of four.

Tampa Bay’s Monday starter will be right-hander Drew Rasmussen (1-1, 3.50 ERA), who is looking to build on an impressive outing against the Seattle Mariners on Wednesday.

Rasmussen, 26, recorded a career-high nine strikeouts while yielding two hits and one walk over six shutout innings in the Rays’ 3-2 win.

“It’s just one of those things as you get rolling and you’re starting to create swings and misses, the confidence goes up, and then from there we were able to expand,” Rasmussen said. “Tonight was an awesome night. It’s something that felt really good.”

The Washington state native, who threw a season-high 84 pitches in the victory, is set to make his first appearance against Oakland.

The Athletics will counter with right-hander Daulton Jefferies (1-3, 3.26 ERA). He has lost his past three starts, though Oakland scored just three runs total in those outings.

Jefferies, 26, allowed five runs on four hits over four innings in an 8-2 loss to the San Francisco Giants on Tuesday.

Oakland is looking for more production from its lineup, but one bright spot has been the play of infielder Sheldon Neuse, who is in his second stint with the Athletics. The 27-year-old is batting .328 after going 1-for-3 on Sunday.

“Sheldon is taking advantage of his opportunity right now and really playing well,” Athletics manager Mark Kotsay said. “I think we saw glimpses of it in his first go-round here. Now, we’re getting to see it consistently.”

Tampa Bay is hoping to have shortstop Wander Franco back in the lineup after he missed the Sunday game due to right hamstring tightness. Franco, 21, is hitting .313 with four homers and three steals.

Rays infielder Isaac Paredes was recalled from Triple-A Durham on Sunday to replace first baseman Ji-Man Choi, who landed on the 10-day injured list because of loose bodies in his right elbow.

The Rays also optioned outfielder Josh Lowe to Durham after the 23-year-old hit .188 with 27 strikeouts and six walks in 71 plate appearances over 19 games.

–Field Level Media

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