TV: FOX Sports Sun
TIME: Pregame coverage begins at 5:30 p.m.
ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- When Tampa Bay's bats aren't connecting, the margin of error is slim enough that the Rays' success and failure can be as close as whether they make the right calls in sending runners from third base.
As they continue a three-game home series against the Milwaukee Brewers on Saturday, they'll look to rebound from a tough 2-0 loss that saw missed opportunities early and a key out at the plate late.
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One night after aggressive baserunning helped them rally for a 5-3 win at Houston, the Rays opted not send a runner from third on a one-out line drive to shallow center in the third. Then they sent Corey Dickerson for what would have been the tying run with two outs in the seventh, only to see Milwaukee throw him out at the plate.
"I thought it was dead on, the right call in that situation that late in the ballgame," manager Kevin Cash said of third-base coach Charlie Montoyo's decision to send Dickerson. "A lot of things have to go right and credit them, it did. No-brainer. I fully support that send. I even high-fived him afterwards."
The Rays (57-54) will hope for a bounce-back start Saturday from right-hander Alex Cobb, who lasted only three innings Monday, giving up eight runs -- one short of his career high -- in a loss against the Astros. He finished without a strikeout for just the second time in his career, leaving him still solid record overall with a 9-7 mark and 3.89 ERA.
Cobb has only faced the Brewers once, but pitched well, striking out 12 batters in a 2014 game, one short of his career high. He lasted eight innings and held Milwaukee to three hits and one run, though the only Brewers hitter remaining from that game is Ryan Braun.
Milwaukee counters with right-hander Zach Davies, who is 12-5 with a 4.42 ERA on the season -- he's gone 5-1 with a 2.74 ERA in his last seven starts. With limited opportunities in interleague play, Davies will be facing the Rays for the first time in his career.
The Brewers have struggled at the plate -- they've scored two, three, two and two runs in their last four wins, which is a testament to the pitching and defense that have stepped up. Shortstop Orlando Arcia, hitting ninth in the Brewers' lineup, not only scored the only runs in Friday's win with a triple and home run, he threw out that runner at the plate with a perfect relay throw.
"It was a perfect throw from (outfielder Braun) and a good throw from me, and (catcher Manny) Pina catching it and putting a good tag down," he said. "Just the whole combination, it was just a great play overall."
Milwaukee's win, combined with a Cubs loss on Friday, leaves the Brewers just a half-game back of Chicago for the Central division lead. The Rays, still just hovering above .500, remain just a half-game behind the Royals for the second wild card and 1 1/2 games back of the Yankees, as all three teams lost Friday.