DETROIT — The Rays used a two-homer game from Logan Morrison and a grand slam from Steven Souza Jr. to split the four-game series against the Tigers at Comerica Park, jumping on Buck Farmer during a 9-1 win on Sunday afternoon.
“Like I’ve said before, we can hit,” Morrison said. “We just have to play defense and we’ll be above .500.”
A series that began with a Miguel Cabrera walk-off Thursday night and a Tigers runaway Friday turned in Tampa Bay’s favor in two different fashions. A day after the Rays rallied in the seventh with ground-ball RBI singles off Michael Fulmer and Alex Wilson, they pulled away early against Farmer, who suffered a third-inning exit for the second consecutive start.
Morrison opened the scoring with a first-inning two-run homer, and Derek Norris led off the third with a shot, but Souza’s third-inning slam ended Farmer’s afternoon. Morrison hit another homer, his 21st of the season, right after Evan Longoria went deep against Chad Bell in the seventh. Rays starter Jacob Faria (3-0) took advantage of the run support and rolled, posting seven innings of one-run ball with nine strikeouts.
“It’s not the easiest thing in the world to go pitch with a big lead,” Rays manager Kevin Cash said. “Because everybody’s sitting there saying, ‘Oh just throw strikes. Throw it over the plate.’ Well when you start doing that, and you’re not focusing on the pitch that you’re trying to attack with, that’s when that lead goes from 7-1 to 7-4. Especially with this lineup.”
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Souza slam: Farmer was an out away from escaping the third inning with a 3-1 deficit, but he was reeling, hitting Longoria with a 1-2 pitch before walking Morrison on four pitches to load the bases. Farmer got away with a 2-0 slider over the plate, but Souza pounced on the same pitch on 2-2, sending it into the left-field seats for a 7-1 lead. All three Rays homers off Farmer came on two-strike counts.
“Same with [Norris],” Farmer said. “Both [homers] were sliders that stayed up in the zone and flattened out. They made me pay.”
Faria flusters felines: Faria had a six-run lead when he took the mound in the bottom of the third inning, but had to maneuver through the middle of the Tigers’ lineup. The young right-hander made it look easy, striking out Cabrera and J.D. Martinez to end the third, then fanning Justin Upton, Nicholas Castellanos and Alex Presley in order in the fourth. Faria retired 11 of 12 Tigers after Upton’s first-inning RBI single accounted for Detroit’s lone tally.
“I’m looking at [pitching coach Jim Hickey] during the game, and you know there were a couple times, approaches that he took that he fell behind,” Cash said. “We’re sitting there, kinda like, ‘Man, what’s going on?’ But then you look up and J.D. Martinez has struck out three times. You gotta be doing something right to get that guy to swing and miss that many times.”
“I’m the new guy. It’s not like I’m bringing something extremely different to the table. It’s just whatever they’re giving me, I’m taking it and trying to run with it.”
— Faria, on trusting pitch selection from catcher Norris, and coaching staff
“It was a [bad] homestand, quite frankly. Lost two to Arizona, bounced back to win the first two against Tampa, then lose the second two. So it was a [bad] homestand. We have to play better than this. I have to manage better. We have to coach better. We have to play better. We have to hit better. We have to pitch better. Simple. We’re not going to make any strides if we keep playing like this.”
— Tigers manager Brad Ausmus
SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS
Farmer became just the sixth Tiger in modern Major League history to give up seven or more runs and three or more homers in an outing with five or fewer hits allowed, according to Baseball Reference. The last was Beiker Graterol, who gave up seven runs on four hits (three homers) in four innings in his only Major League start, against the Yankees on April 9, 1999.
Rays: Tampa Bay heads home to start a six-game homestand, which starts Monday against the Reds. Jake Odorizzi will be on the mound for the 7:10 p.m. ET start, facing Cincinnati for the first time in his career. He has allowed a home run in nine consecutive games, the longest such streak by a Ray since 2006.
Tigers: Anibal Sanchez returns from his four-start stint with Triple-A Toledo to make his first start for the Tigers this season, taking the mound for their series opener at Seattle at 10:10 p.m. ET on Monday.