MLB: With bats heating up, Rays take on Athletics

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The Tampa Bay Rays’ slumbering offense woke up with a flurry of extra-base hits Wednesday.

Tampa Bay will look to keep it up Thursday afternoon in the series finale against the Oakland Athletics in St. Petersburg, Fla.

Struggling to a 2-6 mark on a nine-game homestand, the Rays will go for the series win against Oakland in the matinee matchup.

The American League West club used three unearned runs in a 3-0 win in Tuesday’s opener. Tampa Bay responded Wednesday by getting six extra-base hits of its nine total and turning to center fielder Jose Siri for some ninth-inning dramatics.

With two outs and the score tied 3-3 in the ninth and Oakland’s Miguel Andujar on base representing the go-ahead run, Siri raced to track down Zack Gelof’s long fly, leaped to the top of the wall and kept the drive from leaving the park.

Siri then won the game, 4-3, in the bottom of the frame by ripping a single to left with Oakland bringing in one of its outfielders to play as a fifth infielder.

It was the Rays’ third walk-off hit this season and made them 10-4 in one-run games.

Meanwhile, the struggling Randy Arozarena had a double Wednesday but was thrown out to end the sixth inning after trying to steal home.

On Tuesday, manager Kevin Cash ended rumors that the left fielder, who is hitting .161, would be demoted to the minors.

“Randy’s a really talented player (who’s) going through a rough time,” Cash said. “I think the best thing we can do is do everything we can to get him to hit and be the player he’s been three, four, five years for us.”

Tampa Bay’s Shawn Armstrong (1-1, 3.91 ERA) will serve as the opener in the series finale, but left-hander Tyler Alexander (2-3, 6.06) likely will have the bulk role behind him.

The finesse-oriented Alexander will look to rebound from his worst 2024 outing after allowing eight runs on 11 hits — including two homers — in five relief innings against the Kansas City Royals in Friday’s 8-1 loss.

In two career relief appearances against Oakland, Alexander holds no record and has a 1.59 ERA in 5 2/3 innings with seven strikeouts.

The A’s have received an offensive boost at the top of the lineup from Abraham Toro, but he has been doing it all month.

Batting .282, the Canadian third baseman has set the tone in the leadoff spot.

In May, Toro has 13 multi-hit games. In a recent 30-game stretch, the 27-year-old from Longueuil, Quebec, batted .328 with three homers and 11 RBIs.

“(Toro) is just locked in right now,” pitcher Ross Stripling said of Toro. “It seems like we’ve had a couple guys be locked in at different times … but Toro is on base all the time. We’re going to keep throwing him out there early in the lineup and rely on him to produce for us because he’s swinging the bat really well.”

The A’s did not announce a starter for Thursday’s contest.

–Field Level Media

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