Without Wander Franco, Rays attempt to take series from Tigers

MLB Baseball

Shortstop Taylor Walls was recalled from Triple-A Durham by the Tampa Bay Rays on Saturday and picked up where star rookie Wander Franco left off.

Walls had two hits and a run scored in Tampa Bay’s 7-2 win at Detroit. Walls took the roster spot of Franco, who went on the 10-day injured list with a hamstring strain. Walls likely will get most of the starts at shortstop while Franco mends.

Tampa Bay and host Detroit will close their weekend series on Sunday.

“We are fortunate with a lot of good players, Walls being one, and the other guys that are on this roster, that we can overcome injuries,” Rays manager Kevin Cash said. “We’ve done it in the past, and we’re confident we’ll do it again.”

Cash is hopeful that Franco can return before the postseason.

“It’s still really early,” Cash said. “We’ll find out, have a better sense, in probably another week how he’s responding to treatment and go from there. He’s frustrated, disappointed, but I think (he’s) also understanding of the situation and how important he is. We’re not going to let him turn whatever grade (the strain is) rated at into a higher grade, or pull the thing where he misses a substantial amount of time.”

Franco, 20, owns the second-longest on-base streak in major-league history by a player under 21. He extended the streak to 39 games before the hamstring injury cropped up while he ran the bases on Friday.

Right-hander Luis Patino (4-3, 4.65 ERA) will start on the mound in the series finale for the Rays (89-53). He originally was scheduled to go on Saturday, but that start was pushed back a day due to a back injury to Shane McClanahan. Cash decided to reinsert Chris Archer into the rotation and give Patino an extra day of rest.

Patino’s first September outing was abbreviated, as he allowed four runs, six hits and three walks in 2 2/3 innings to Minnesota last Sunday.

Velocity wasn’t the issue for the 21-year-old right-hander — his fastball averaged a season-high 96.7 mph. The Twins scored three runs in the second and one in the third and went on to beat Tampa Bay 6-5.

In his previous four outings, Patino pitched into the sixth inning twice. He’ll face Detroit for the first time.

Rookie left-hander Tarik Skubal (8-12, 4.30) will oppose Patino. Skubal isn’t expected to pitch more than three innings. The Tigers (67-76) have placed their rookie rotation members under strict innings limits.

Skubal gave up two runs on four hits in three innings at Pittsburgh on Monday. He threw 50 pitches and recorded four strikeouts. The runs came on a Kevin Newman homer in the first inning.

“It’s just unfortunate that’s the one pitch I get beat on,” Skubal said. “I left it too middle. I wanted to go up and in with the sinker, and it didn’t quite get there. Later in the game I did exactly what I wanted to, and I got two punch-outs with that pitch.”

The Tigers will try to bounce back Sunday from a night in which they had just three hits. They were down 3-0 after two innings and never recovered.

“They took control of the game and could do whatever they needed,” Tigers manager AJ Hinch said of the Rays. “We were never quite in it after the first punch they threw.”

–Field Level Media

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