Jose Siri, Rays take on skidding Nats again

With their offense seemingly revitalized, the Tampa Bay Rays started the season’s second half the right way on Friday.

After a 3-1 series-opening win over Washington, the Rays will attempt to win their fourth consecutive series when they meet the Nationals on Saturday afternoon in St. Petersburg, Fla.

The two-run win in the opener was the way the Rays like to do it: timely hitting plus strong pitching from their starter and bullpen.

All of those boxes were checked Friday in a victory that put the Rays back at .500 and sent the Nationals to their fourth straight loss.

Jose Siri hit 833 feet of home-run distance with a pair of solo shots, while No. 1 starter Zach Eflin tossed sixth scoreless innings in his first win since May 13.

Rays manager Kevin Cash said Siri, his center fielder, has been on it over the past three weeks.

Siri, who slugged a career-high 25 homers last year, is hitting .327 with five homers, seven RBIs and 15 runs over his past 15 games.

“We really like the way he’s kind of reset his season,” Cash said. “He’s putting up numbers pretty much in line with what he did last year. He’s worked really hard on the mechanics of his swing.

“I feel like he’s been under control more and on time for pitches.”

Also on time was Yandy Diaz, who set a franchise record by recording a hit in his 20th straight game.

On Saturday, right-hander Aaron Civale (2-5, 5.20 ERA) will start for the Rays. His 17th start of the season will be his first-ever against Washington.

The Nationals will counter with Jake Irvin (5-6, 3.13). The right-hander also will start for the 17th time this season and will face the Rays for the first time ever.

Washington lost left fielder Jesse Winker to a bruised knee while he tracked down Isaac Paredes’ deep fly in the first inning Friday, though the outfielder made the catch against the wall while falling.

The Nationals mustered just five hits Friday, two on doubles by Jacob Young, who also stole a base and scored an unearned run on a throwing error by Rays catcher Alex Jackson.

Regardless of what happens in the Rays’ dome by the bay, the Nationals will have something to be excited about when they open an eight-game homestand Monday with the first of four games against the New York Mets, who have won four games in a row.

Reports have surfaced that the Nationals will call up top prospect James Wood. The outfielder, ranked the No. 3 overall prospect by MLB Pipeline, has set a torrid pace at Triple-A Rochester.

The 21-year-old, 6-foot-7 Wood has shown standout play with the Red Wings this season. In 190 at-bats, the lefty-swinging Maryland product is batting .353 with 67 hits, 37 RBIs, 10 homers and 10 stolen bases. He also has played all three outfield positions.

“I don’t want to be a fan, but if I was a fan, I can’t wait until he comes up here, too,” Nationals manager Dave Martinez said. “It’s going to be fun.”

Wood arrived from the San Diego Padres in 2022 as part of the gigantic deal that sent Juan Soto to the Padres.

Added Nationals shortstop CJ Abrams: “He’s the real deal.”

–Field Level Media