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The Tampa Bay Rays hope to receive more great pitching on Sunday afternoon when they close out their three-game series with the Texas Rangers in St. Petersburg, Fla.

The Rays (81-64) and Rangers (63-82) have split the first two contests, with strong performances on the mound leading the way in the victories.

On Saturday night, six Rays pitchers held the Rangers to just six hits. Texas also went 0-for-6 with runners in scoring position in the 5-1 loss.

Left-hander Jeffrey Springs’ turn in the rotation may have come at the best time for Tampa Bay.

With ace Shane McClanahan recently on the mend, Springs (8-4, 2.41 ERA) appears locked in and has emerged as a standout starter in manager Kevin Cash’s rotation.

Across three starts in a sizzling September, Springs has won twice and hasn’t allowed a run in 14 2/3 innings against the New York Yankees, Boston Red Sox and Toronto Blue Jays.

“I’m just taking it day-by-day, game-by-game, but I feel good where my stuff’s at,” Springs said after scattering three hits over six shutout innings in Tuesday’s 4-2 win in Toronto.

Springs received a no decision over five innings in a start in Arlington, Texas on June 1, surrendering solo homers to Sam Huff and Nathaniel Lowe in the Rays’ 4-3 win in 11 innings.

In four career appearances including the one start against Texas, he owns a 2.45 ERA without a decision in 7 1/3 innings pitched.

Texas interim manager Tony Beasley, who became the dugout leader on Aug. 15, is 12-19 to start his audition to finish the season. He will need to improve his team’s play in close games to convince team president Jon Daniels and general manager Chris Young to hire him next season as the team’s skipper.

A fine discovery since Beasley took over in August has been the play of Mark Mathias.

The utilityman recorded his first career walk-off homer Tuesday night in a win over Oakland. He followed it up with a 2-for-5 showing and another homer on Wednesday.

Mathias became the first member of the Rangers to homer in three straight plate appearances since Rougned Odor did it from May 16-17, 2019.

Texas acquired Mathias at the trade deadline in a deal that sent pitcher Matt Bush to Milwaukee.

In 17 games, Mathias is hitting .347 with five homers and 16 RBIs.

“What I was told from talking to (Round Rock manager) Matt Hagen in Triple-A was that he praised his at bats,” Beasley said. “He said he was a professional and that he was going to give you quality at-bats.

“He stepped right in and he’s definitely done everything that I heard he would do and then some offensively.”

Glenn Otto (6-8, 4.71) will close the series for Texas in his 24th start this season. The right-hander is winless in his last three starts dating back to a 7-6 victory over the Detroit Tigers on Aug. 26.

In his lone appearance against the Rays, the former Rice reliever beat them with six innings of four-hit ball. He allowed two runs (one earned), walked three and struck out four in the 9-5 win on May 30.

–Field Level Media