Rays hope to continue consistent play vs. Royals

Winners of four straight series, the Tampa Bay Rays will try to keep rolling when they open a three-game set with the host Kansas City Royals on Tuesday.

Tampa Bay most recently took two of three games from the Washington Nationals over the weekend, capping the series with a 5-0 victory on Sunday. Five Rays pitchers combined to allow just three hits in that contest.

“We’re capable of finding that consistency in winning a lot of series,” Tampa Bay manager Kevin Cash said.

Among those driving the Rays to their recent string of success is left fielder Randy Arozarena.

Arozarena hit just .158 in games played from March 28-May 31, but he has caught fire heading into July, recording hits in 12 of his past 14 games. He has a batting average of .319 during that stretch, ripping three homers to go along with eight RBIs.

“Whatever he’s feeling or whatever adjustments he’s made seem to be working,” Cash said. “But the biggest thing is he’s laying off pitches that he can’t handle … and it’s getting him in better spots to go up and drive baseballs.”

Right-hander Brady Singer (4-4, 3.12 ERA) will try to slow Arozarena down when he makes his 17th start of the season on Tuesday.

In five career starts against Tampa Bay, Singer is 1-1 with a 4.55 ERA. He faced the Rays on May 25, coming away with a no-decision after yielding two runs (one earned) on four hits in five innings.

Singer hasn’t earned a win since May 19, going 0-2 with a 3.86 ERA over his past six outings. He didn’t factor into the decision against the Miami Marlins last Wednesday, when he gave up just one run and five hits in 7 1/3 innings.

After being on the wrong end of a three-game sweep against the Texas Rangers from June 21-23, Kansas City has won five of its past seven games. It put together a strong performance against the American League Central-leading Cleveland Guardians this past weekend, winning three games in the four-game set.

The Royals prevailed 6-2 on Sunday behind a 10-strikeout outing from starter Seth Lugo and a three-hit showing from shortstop Bobby Witt Jr.

Witt has gone 8-for-25 (.320) in his past seven games.

“The fans love him,” Kansas City manager Matt Quatraro said of Witt. “I think they understand that division games are important. … He is a stop-what-you’re-doing-and-watch kind of player. Whether that’s on TV or that’s here (at the ballpark), that’s the kind of person he is, and that’s the talent he has.”

Right-hander Zack Littell (2-5, 4.17) will have to deal with Witt and the rest of the Royals’ lineup. He will take the mound for the 17th time this year on Tuesday.

In his latest start, Littell settled for a no-decision against the Seattle Mariners last Tuesday after surrendering two runs on four hits in five innings.

Littell has only been used as a reliever against Kansas City. He is 1-0 with a 3.71 ERA in 11 career appearances vs. the Royals.

Kansas City and Tampa Bay met for a three-game series in late May, and the Royals escaped St. Petersburg, Fla., with two wins.

–Field Level Media