The Tampa Bay Rays lead the majors in home runs with 90, and now their potent lineup is even more dangerous following the return of Yandy Diaz.
That's good news for the Rays as they go for a three-game series sweep against the Milwaukee Brewers on Sunday in St. Petersburg, Fla.
A tight leftgroin had kept Diaz out of the lineup for four games, but the first baseman led off Saturday's game and connected on a three-run homer in the second inning during Tampa Bay's 8-4 win.
"Yandy, the three-run homer kind of opened it up," Rays manager Kevin Cash said. "It's nice to have him back in the lineup. He can do some pretty good things."
Diaz leads the Rays in homers with 11. Also on Saturday, Harold Ramirez and Christian Bethancourt each went deep.
With three hits on Saturday, Diaz had hit safely in each of the last 13 games in which he has played. Luke Raley pinch-ran for Diaz in the seventh inning. Cash said that was to prevent his leadoff hitter from having to perhaps run hard on an extra-base hit. Diaz is expected to play on Sunday.
The Rays announced left-hander Jalen Beeks (1-2, 4.70 ERA) as Sunday's starter. Beeks has faced the Brewers twice, making one start. While he hasn't been involved in a decision, he has a 3.00 ERA in three innings.
The Brewers are countering with right-hander Freddy Peralta (4-3, 4.11) on Sunday.
Peralta is 1-0 with a 3.60 ERA in one career start against the Rays.
The 26-year-old has worked at least six innings in five of his eight starts but is coming off allowing a season-high six runs in a loss at the St. Louis Cardinals on Monday.
Milwaukee is patching together its rotation due to injuries. Left-hander Wade Miley will be out six to eight weeks with a strained muscle near his shoulder. Already, the staff is without All-Star Brandon Woodruff (shoulder) until at least late June, and lefty Aaron Ashby (shoulder) is out until maybe September.
"We are stretching our depth," Brewers general manager Matt Arnold told reporters. "But I think we've had a lot of guys step up over the course of the season. And we're going to have to continue to have guys throughout our system, and who are currently on our team, continue to step up so we can get through this."
The Brewers received stellar starting pitching from Adrian Houser, who tossed six shutout innings on Friday night in the series opener at Tampa Bay. But Eric Lauer lasted just three-plus innings on Saturday, giving up six runs on six hits.
"Injuries are part of the baseball season," Brewers manager Craig Counsell said. "It doesn't really do any good to have a 'woe is us' reaction to them. Other guys have to step up and take their spots and perform, and we'll do our best to get them back as quickly and safely as possible. That's how it works for every other team, too."
The Rays also have dealt with injuries to their rotation. But Tampa Bay typically is satisfied with six or seven innings from its starters because of the confidence the club has in its bullpen.
"I think they've done a good job given the circumstances," Cash said. "Given how the starters have gone down, they've had to carry a bigger load, some of them that we didn't ideally want to happen."
--Field Level Media