MLB

Rays-Athletics Preview

Following an awful start to their 10-game trip, the Tampa Bay Rays are in position to record a well-earned split on the trek.

They can conclude their journey with a fourth straight victory Sunday over an Oakland Athletics club that continues to struggle against the AL East.

Tampa Bay (62-61) opened its road swing by being swept in three games at Texas then lost two of its first three in Houston before salvaging a split with the Astros and earning a pair of one-run victories against Oakland.

Asdrubal Cabrera homered in the seventh inning then delivered a go-ahead two-run double in the ninth to help the Rays rally for Saturday's 5-4 victory.

Very much in the hunt for the second wild-card spot in the AL, Tampa Bay continues to show its mettle.

"We play in a lot of tight ballgames. We always talk about that's the way our club's built," said Rays manager Kevin Cash, whose team was 0-49 when trailing after eight innings coming into Saturday.

"I guess we hit the reset button and hopefully start a new trend," leadoff hitter John Jaso said.

Cabrera, who clubbed one of the Rays' three solo home runs off Oakland ace Sonny Gray, is batting .412 with four homers and 13 RBIs in 22 games since coming off the disabled list July 28 from a strained hamstring.

Teammate Jake Odorizzi (6-6, 3.02 ERA), meanwhile, has been plagued by inconsistency while going 1-1 with a 4.50 ERA in seven starts since the All-Star break. However, he allowed one run and matched a season high with nine strikeouts in Tuesday's 3-2, 10-inning loss against the Astros.

"Once I started using my legs more and the ball started going where I wanted it to, everything just got a lot better," he said.

Despite the outcome, the right-hander is 1-1 with an 0.91 ERA in five starts against the AL West this season. However, Odorizzi hopes to fare better than last season when he gave up three runs and walked five while striking out eight in 4 2-3 innings of a 3-0 loss to the A's.

A loser in nine of its last 11, Oakland (53-71) is 9-23 against the East and has a 6.17 ERA during its current 10-game slide versus those opponents. Saturday's loss was also Oakland's major league-high 29th in one-run games.

Rookie Kendall Graveman (6-9, 4.27) allowed three hits in six innings of a 5-0 victory in his only previous start against Tampa Bay on May 23. It was his first against an East opponent this year, but he's 0-3 with a 5.97 ERA in his last six against the division.

The right-hander gave up six runs and eight hits in 3 1-3 innings of last Sunday's 18-2 loss at Baltimore to fall to 0-5 and raise his ERA to 6.89 ERA over his last seven overall starts - all Oakland defeats.

"I didn't locate the fastball well," Graveman told MLB's official website. "It had great movement, but I didn't locate it well, and I think that's one of those things that got me in trouble, and just not getting ahead of people again. For me, that's how I gotta pitch. I gotta locate the fastball and get ahead of hitters."

With three hits Saturday, Oakland's Brett Lawrie is batting .385 in his last six contests. He's hitting .414 in his last seven against Tampa Bay.

Promoted Stories
Comments

More MLB