When the time comes to look back on the 2017 season, the Tampa Bay Rays should remember June as a month filled with missed opportunities. While they can still make some noise in the second half of the season, they missed a good chance to establish themselves as a bona fide contender for a playoff spot.
Heading into June, Tampa Bay had every reason to be optimistic. They finished May with a winning record, including a 10-4 mark on the road.
The June schedule included 7 games with the Seattle Mariners and Oakland Athletics, the bottom two teams in the Western Division. They had 7 games with the Detroit Tigers and Chicago White Sox, the bottom two teams in the Central Division.
The schedule included 6 interleague games with the Cincinnati Reds and Pittsburgh Pirates, the bottom two teams in the National League Central Division. Just last week there were three home games with the Baltimore Orioles, whose pitchers are coughing up runs like a Pez dispenser.
As Tampa Bay heads into Friday night’s game in Baltimore, they stand 12-13 for the month and 41-40 on the season, but only four games behind division-leading Boston. They have lost 8 of 12 games on the road in June.
The month started with the Mariners sweeping the Rays in Seattle. After a 5-2 homestand with Chicago and Oakland, they broke even in Toronto and Detroit.
They could only break even at home against Cincinnati and Baltimore, two teams with dreadful pitching staffs. Now, after losing two out of three to a Pittsburgh team with pitching problems of their own, Tampa Bay must win tonight in Baltimore just to break even for the month.
Rookie Jake Faria will make his fifth career start for the Rays. He will face Baltimore’s Chris Tillman, who is 1-5 with an earned run average of 8.39. He is 0-3 with an 11.39 ERA in five June starts.
With the Chicago Cubs and Boston Red Sox coming into town next week, a good showing in Baltimore is highly recommended.