Rays put LHP Raley on restricted list, add three RHPs

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TORONTO — The Tampa Bay Rays put three new pitchers on the roster Monday before a pivotal four-day, five-game series against wild-card rival Toronto, adding right-hander Cooper Criswell as a substitute player to start the opener.

Tampa Bay also selected righties Kevin Herget and Javy Guerra from Triple-A Durham.

The Rays put unvaccinated left-hander Brooks Raley on the restricted list ahead of their second and final regular season visit to Canada and optioned right-handers Calvin Faucher and Luis Patino to Triple-A.

Also Monday, the Rays transferred left-hander Brendan McKay (elbow) from the 15-day injured list to the 60-day IL.

To enter the country, the Canadian government requires a person to have received a second COVID-19 vaccine dose – or one dose of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine – at least 14 days before entry. Unvaccinated players go on the restricted list because they are not paid and do not accrue major league service time, according to a March agreement between Major League Baseball and the players’ association.

Raley will lose $93,407 of his $4.25 million salary during the series, which runs from Monday to Thursday. He forfeited the same amount when he missed the Rays’ first series at Toronto this year, from June 30 to July 3, bringing his total loss to $186,814.

A 34-year-old left-hander, Raley is 1-1 with a 2.03 ERA and six saves in 52 appearances.

Rays reliever Ryan Thompson, who went on the restricted list for the Rays’ first trip to Toronto, is currently on the injured list with right triceps inflammation.

Tampa Bay (78-60) and Seattle (79-61) each were a half-game ahead of Toronto (78-61) in the AL wild-card standings entering play Monday. Baltimore (73-67) was 5 1/2 games behind the Blue Jays.

The Rays trail the Yankees (85-56) by 5 1/2 games in the AL East race. Toronto is six games behind New York.

Criswell will face Blue Jays right-hander Jose Berrios in his Rays debut Monday. Criswell, who was claimed off waivers from the Los Angeles Angels in July, will make his second career appearance and first since Aug. 27, 2021, when he allowed three runs in 1 1/3 innings in a loss to San Diego.

Tampa Bay shortstop Wander Franco is not in the starting lineup Monday. Franco returned Friday after missing two months because of a wrist injury and played all three games of a weekend series against the Yankees. Manager Kevin Cash said Franco was available off the bench.

The Rays and Blue Jays will play a doubleheader Tuesday, the second of two scheduled this year to make up for early-season games wiped out by the lockout.

Braves sweep Mets, take 2-game lead in East with 3 remaining

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ATLANTA — Dansby Swanson and Matt Olson homered for the third straight game, Travis d'Arnaud hit a go-ahead two-run single in the third inning, and Atlanta Braves beat the New York Mets 5-3, completing a three-game sweep of their NL East rival and taking a two-game lead in the division with three games to play.

The defending World Series champion Braves have been chasing the Mets the entire season. In the final series of the season, any combination of one Atlanta win or one Mets loss would give the Braves their fifth straight division title.

New York plays its final three games of the season against worst-in-the-majors Washington. Atlanta closed out the regular season with a three-game set in Miami. Should the season end Wednesday in a tie, Atlanta would win the division after claiming the season series 10-9 with Sunday’s victory.

The Braves won five of the last six games in the series, outscoring the Mets 42-19 over that stretch. New York had a 10 1/2-game lead on June 1 but now is the lower in the standings than at any point this season.

It was a lost weekend for New York, which came to Atlanta hoping to clinch its first division title since 2015. Instead, aces Jacob deGrom and Max Scherzer lost Friday and Saturday before 15-game winner Chris Bassitt lasted just 2 2/3 innings on Sunday.

Swanson took Bassitt deep to right-center in the first with his 25th homer, and Atlanta took charge with a three-run third. Bassitt (15-9) issued a bases-loaded walk to Olson before d’Arnaud delivered a single up the middle to score Ronald Acuna Jr. and Austin Riley for a 4-3 lead. That chased Bassitt, who was charged with four runs, three hits and three walks.

Olson connected for his 33rd homer to make it 5-3 leading off the sixth, his 410-foot shot landing in the seats in right-center. Olson, in his first year with Atlanta, surpassed 100 RBIs for the second straight season.

Charlie Morton stranded runners on first and second in the first, but he gave up Daniel Vogelbach‘s 18th homer that tied it at 1 in the second. The righty struck out Francisco Lindor with runners on first and second to end the threat.

Jeff McNeil went deep off Morton in the third and Vogelbach followed with an RBI single to put the Mets up 3-1. Morton entered the game having allowed 28 homers, sixth-most in the NL.

Morton scuffled throughout his start, giving up three runs and nine hits in 4 1/3 innings as the 38-year-old made his first start since signing a $20 million, one-year contract to remain with Atlanta next season.

Dylan Lee (5-1) relieved Morton and pitched 1 1/3 innings, leaving after a walk to Brandon Nimmo with two outs in the sixth. Collin McHugh entered and struck out Francisco Lindor.

Raisel Iglesias faced four batters in the seventh, A.J. Minter faced the minimum in the eighth and closer Kenley Jansen converted his third save of the series with a clean ninth.

Jansen leads the NL with 40 saves in 47 chances.

The Braves’ bullpen, which posted a 1.70 ERA last month, pitched 8 2/3 scoreless innings the last two nights.

BIG NUMBERS

Atlanta leads the NL with 241 homers. And the Braves have their first 100-victory season since 2003.

TWO, DARN HOT

McNeil went 3 for 5 and has multiple hits in five straight games. His average is .326, one point behind the Dodgers’ Freddie Freeman for the NL batting title. In 23 career games at Truist Park, McNeil is hitting .395 with 12 runs, nine doubles, two homers, seven RBIs and four walks. … Jansen tied Hall of Famer Dennis Eckersley for eighth place on the career list with 389. He’s also is the 10th closer to have four different seasons with at least 40 saves.

TRAINER’S ROOM

Mets All-Star RF Starling Marte (right middle finger fracture) has yet to begin swinging or throwing. … Braves 2B Ozzie Albies (broken right pinky finger) is still wearing a cast. … Braves RHP Spencer Strider still has not thrown as he gets treatment on a sore left oblique.

ATTENDANCE

The Braves drew 42,713 in their regular season finale, the club’s 42nd sellout of the season. Overall. that’s 3,129,931 for the season – and the most tickets sold since 2000. In 2019, the team’s last full season before the COVID-19 pandemic, Atlanta drew 2,655,100.

UP NEXT

Mets: RHP Carlos Carrasco (15-7, 3.95 ERA) will face Nationals RHP Cory Abbott (0-4, 5.11).

Braves: RHP Bryce Elder (2-3, 2.76 ERA) will face Marlins LHP Jesus Luzardo (3-7, 3.53).