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The Tampa Bay Rays weren’t supposed to be the team battling to stay out of last place in the final week of the regular season, but that’s the way things turned out in the American League East.
The Miami Marlins, who visit the Rays in the middle of a three-game series on Wednesday, are no strangers to the bottom of the standings and are closing out their sixth straight losing campaign.
Tampa Bay was in first place at the end of June but never managed to put together a strong push in September and needed to pull out a 4-2 win in the series opener on Tuesday in order to snap a three-game slide.
A successful final five games could lift the Rays as high as third place in the East while winning all five would make them a .500 team.
The Marlins pulled their way out of the battle for the basement in the National League East by winning five straight heading into this week but could not find the offense Tuesday that led to an average of 6.4 runs in those games.
Miami’s bats will attempt to figure out Drew Smyly on Wednesday while Jarred Cosart takes the mound for the Marlins.
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PITCHING MATCHUP: Marlins RH Jarred Cosart (2-4, 4.15 ERA) vs. Rays LH Drew Smyly (4-2, 3.26)
Cosart was removed from his last start after four innings due to a contusion on his left forearm sustained when he was hit by a line drive.
The 25-year-old had not allowed a run against Philadelphia at that point and held his last four opponents to two or fewer earned runs.
Cosart yielded one run and three hits in six innings to suffer a loss to Tampa Bay on Apr. 11.
Smyly is trying to find some consistency to take into the offseason after holding Boston scoreless over 6 1/3 innings on Sept. 23.
The 26-year-old has alternated dominant outings and less-than-spectacular turns since coming off the disabled list on Aug. 16, holding the opposition scoreless in four of those starts and allowing at least four runs in each of the other four.
Smyly is making his first career start against the Marlins.
- Marlins RF Giancarlo Stanton (wrist) was officially ruled out for the remainder of the season on Tuesday.
- Tampa Bay 2B Logan Forsythe (bruised right foot) left Tuesday’s game and is day-to-day.
- Miami 3B Martin Prado recorded multiple hits in five of the last seven games.
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