KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- The Texas Rangers will open a three-game series at Tampa Bay on Friday in what will be their first visit to Tropicana Field since the 2011 American League Division Series. The game starts at 6:10 p.m. on ESPN Dallas 103.3 FM. Here’s a look at the pitching matchup featuring LHP Derek Holland vs. RHP Jeremy Hellickson:
Holland (10-6, 4.79 ERA): The lefty has won three straight starts and is 3-0 with a 3.51 ERA in his last five to lower his season ERA from 5.18 to 4.79. A win Friday would give Holland his first career four-game winning streak. ... Opponents have hit just .213 against Holland in his last five starts. ... In postseason play against the Rays over the last two years, Holland has four appearances and one start. He started Game 2 against the Rays last year, working five innings while allowing six hits and three runs (one earned). The Rangers took that game to even the series, 1-1. ... Texas is 14-8 in Holland’s starts this year.
Hellickson (8-10, 3.41 ERA): The Rays were 4-1 in Hellickson’s first five starts but are just 7-13 since. Run support has been the big issue for the tough-luck pitcher. Tampa Bay has scored only six runs in Hellickson’s last six starts and just four runs with Hellickson on the mound. ... Hellickson has gone seven innings or more in just six of his 25 starts. Last year, he went seven or more innings in 14 of 29 starts en route to AL Rookie of the Year honors. ... Hellickson is averaging 16.8 pitches per inning, the seventh-highest total in the American League.
Hitters: Evan Longoria is 8-for-19 against Holland with two homers. ... B.J. Upton has gone 8-for-17 against the Texas lefty. ... No Texas players has more than four at-bats against Hellickson. Josh Hamilton is 2-for-3 against the right-hander with a homer.