As we, collectively, try to put the last series behind us, Tampa Bay walks into Cockroach City to take on the O’s for a three game set. Honestly, the Rays/Yanks series could have gone in either direction, and at least Tampa Bay avoided a sweep. Nevertheless, history is history, and now it’s time for the Rays to focus on the Orioles who they’re tied with for first place in the AL East.
It will be nice to have Matt Joyce back in the lineup tonight. Desmond Jennings, however, will be relegated to pinch hitting duties following a left knee strain on May 5th. Joe Maddon noted that Jennings is “truly is day to day.”
On Wednesday night, we all saw what could happen when the Rays are firing on, well, three out of four cylinders. Hey, it’s not perfect, and Longo’s absence leaves a huge offensive void/black hole in the lineup, but it’s better than nothing! Joyce and Scott’s bats will add some extra (read: well needed) oomph in the lineup.
Lest we forget that BJ Upton does freakishly as well at Camden Yards, and will look to do his part to get the Rays out of this six game funk, where they’ve gone 2-4. It was around this time last year that BJ had a huge four RBI night at Camden Yards, propelling the Rays to a big win. With all of those facets in working order, Tampa Bay could do some damage against the O’s, who Tampa Bay is currently tied with for first in the AL East.
Jeremy Hellickson (3-0, 2.75 ERA) looks to rebound from his shortest/least efficient start of the year on May 5th, where he lasted all of 3.2 IP while giving up 2 ER and 5 H. Hellickson threw 92 pitches (59 for strikes) in his short stint, which found the Rays, ultimately, going into extra innings and losing 4-3 in the 12th. Taking the bump against Jeremy Hellickson is LHP Dana Eveland (19-24, 5.52 major league career, 2-1, 2.84 ERA against the Rays) who will be getting his first start of the year for the Orioles, after being recalled from Triple-A Norfolk earlier in the week.
The Rays don’t have much experience against Eveland; only about 19 innings at best. Eveland’s performances haven’t really been much to write home about, posting a 14 H/6 ER/3 HR/8 BB/12 K line in those 19 innings of work. Eveland has fairly even splits against righties (.294 BAA) and lefties (.303 BAA), and is apt to leave his fastball and curveball hanging over the meat of the plate. His career 5.52 ERA speaks to that. That’s good news for Tampa Bay following the Sabathia/Soriano blunderbus that was last nights game. The starting lineup is below. Let’s Go Rays…reclaim soul possession of that number one spot in the AL East!
Rays Starting Lineup 5/11/12: