ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — The Tampa Bay Rays handed the ball to Zach Eflin for their pivotal second Wild Card game on Wednesday based on what he had done in the 2023 season. However, maybe Rays manager Kevin Cash should have checked the Rays game notes before making that decison.
Texas Rangers continue to prove they own Tampa Bay Rays starter Zach Eflin
Call it ancient history, shrug it off or do with the information whatever you want, but there is something about the Rangers that just doesn't mesh with Eflin's style of pitching. From Tampa Bay's game notes, "Eflin made his lone career appearance opposite Texas on 5/17/17... took the loss after allowing seven runs on 11 hits and two walks with one strikeout across 4.0 innings."
Well, on Wednesday afternoon inside Tropicana Field, the numbers were better for Eflin against the Rangers, but the Texas bats still roughed him up plenty.
Eflin allowed eight hits and five runs (four earned) over 5.0 innings as the Rangers jumped all over him for a 5-0 advantage. Two of the biggest blows against Eflin were fourth-inning home runs hit by Adolis Garcia and Evan Carter, the latter of which was the exclamation point on the game-changing inning.
Eflin needed 75 pitches to get through the five innings, and never pitched a clean frame, even though he faced the minimum number of batters in the second inning thanks to a nice defensive stab from first baseman Yandy Diaz that turned into a quick double play, erasing Jonah Heim off first after he had reached on a single.
Make no mistake about it ... Eflin finished 2023 strong, allowing three runs or fewer in each of his last seven starts, the longest streak of his career. However, his past history against the Rangers bit the right-hander and the Rays at the worst possible time on Wednesday.