ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — On the heels of 11 straight wins, the Tampa Bay Rays will look to a 22-year-old right hander Wednesday night, as Taj Bradley starts in place of Zach Eflin, who was placed on the injured list earlier this week.
Bradley, who is at the top of the Rays depth chart and 18 in the MLB pipeline, boasts a 2.66 ERA and 353 strikeouts in 75 games during his minor league career.
He'll face a Red Sox lineup eager to hand Tampa Bay its first loss of the season.
With a win Wednesday the Rays would tie the franchise's longest winning streak, which was set by the then Devil Rays in 2004.
“Pretty exciting. Doing it the way we have, every facet of our game is really performing, producing and contributing,” manager Kevin Cash said. “Normally it doesn’t work out that way.”
Through Tuesday night’s 7-2 victory against the Boston Red Sox, the Rays have swatted a majors-leading 29 homers and outscored opponents 83-20 for baseball’s fastest getaway since the ’87 Brewers won 13 in a row to tie the ’82 Braves for the longest win streak to start a season.
Tampa Bay won its first nine games by four runs or more, the longest such streak at any point in a season since the New York Yankees rattled off 10 in a row in 1939.
“Truthfully, I don’t think we’ve talked about it. We’re just here to play our brand of baseball. ... We just have fun with each other, and go out there and have a blast,” ace Shane McClanahan said.
“It’s fun to be in this clubhouse regardless of the streak, to be honest with you,” McClanahan added. “I’ll tell you the truth, that’s the last thing we’re concerned about. ... Part of what we do is no matter what, we have the same mentality out there.”
In addition to swinging torrid bats, the pitching and defense have been superb, too, with No. 3 and No. 4 starters Jeffrey Springs and Drew Rasmussen each winning twice and posting 13 scoreless innings over their first two outings.
The streak has fans on the edge of their seats as well.
Mark Ferguson of Ferg's Sports Bar and Grill says his place has been more full than usual on weekdays.
"If you've got a winning streak people want to be part of that," said Ferguson. "So, every win it gets a little bit better."
Ferg's also did record breaking business on the Rays opening day less than two weeks ago.
“Everybody is showing up. They see the excitement and it’s only going to get better,” said Freguson.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.