(Sports Network) - The team with the top record in the majors tries to make
it seven straight wins tonight as the Tampa Bay Rays entertain the Oakland
Athletics in the second of a three-game set at Tropicana Field.
Outside of a four-game slide in the middle of April, the Rays have been almost
unbeatable as they currently enjoy a run of 12 wins in 13 tries. Now a game
and a half up on the Baltimore Orioles for first place in the American League
East, Tampa Bay has been unstoppable at home as well with 13 victories in 14
On Friday night the Rays put up seven runs over the third and fourth innings
as they defeated Oakland, 7-2, in the first meeting of the season between the
squads. Jose Molina, Luke Scott and B.J. Upton each plated a pair for the
hosts while starting pitcher David Price logged his fifth win in six
decisions. Price allowed just one run on three hits and struck out a season-
high 12 over the course of eight innings.
As for the A's, currently 4 1/2 games out of first in the AL West and a game
under .500 overall, they saw a brief two-game win streak come to an end last
night as hurler Tyson Ross was shelled for seven runs on nine hits and a pair
of walks in just 3 1/3 innings of work. While the bullpen responded by holding
Tampa Bay hitless the rest of the way, the damage had already been done.
"I didn't think his command within the strike zone was good today," was how
Oakland manager Bob Melvin described the effort by Ross.
Cliff Pennington accounted for one run with a solo home run for the visitors,
while Jonny Gomes delivered a pair of hits and scored one as well in the
Shooting for his fourth win of the new season, Bartolo Colon is set to take
the ball for the A's this evening in Florida. The right-hander won three of
his first four outings of 2012, but since then he hasn't gotten much help from
Last weekend Colon made it through a season-high 8 1/3 innings versus
Baltimore on the road, permitting just two runs on seven hits and a walk,
while striking out five, but still Oakland suffered a 5-2 loss and the hurler
was left without a decision.
For his career, Colon has a record of 9-5 with a 3.95 ERA in 22 games versus
As for the Rays, Jeremy Hellickson get the call for the hosts this evening.
The Iowa native is off to a strong start to the season with three wins in as
many decisions. Already 2-0 at home on the campaign, the right-hander helped
the Rays to yet another win on Monday as he allowed just a single run on six
hits and struck out seven in as many innings, although he failed to register a
decision for his efforts.
Hellickson is making his third appearance all-time against Oakland and is
still waiting to notch his first decision versus the A's.
Hellickson might be catching Oakland at just the right time, seeing as how the
A's are last in the AL in team batting at .212 and have scored a league-low 84
runs over the course of 27 contests. Against right-handers the A's are batting
Over the last six games Oakland hitters have shown marginal improvement in
overall batting average (.232), but at the same time are striking out almost
10 times per contest.
The Tampa Bay pitching staff has a collective ERA of 3.69, putting them in the
middle of the pack in the AL, but when it comes to strikeouts the squad's 215
are second-best in the league.
The Rays, already an impressive 10-1 versus the AL West this season, defeated
the A's only twice in seven opportunities all of last year.
The Sports Network