The Rangers and Rays begin a four-game series tonight at Globe Life Park.
Here's a preview:
What's up with the Rays? They had a three-game win streak snapped Sunday with a 12-inning loss to the Chicago Cubs. The Rays have played three extra-inning games in the last seven days. Tampa Bay is 13-7 since the All-Star break and 33-18 since June 11, which is the second-best mark in the majors. 3B Evan Longoria is on a 4-for-26 slide with a double and three RBIs. SS Yunel Escobar had a four-game hit streak end Sunday. INF/OF Ben Zobrist has been on a tear. Dating back to June 28, Zobrist is hitting .360 with four home runs, 17 RBIs and 23 walks. When Yu Darvish pitches Thursday, several Rays could have problems. Longoria is .182 and Escobar is .154 against the Rangers ace.
What's up with the Rangers? The Rangers completed a nine-game, 10-day road trip at 3-6. The club broke four-game and two-game losing streaks. Coming home isn't a positive thing for the Rangers. The club has the fewest victories at their home ballpark (21) in the majors. 1B J.P. Arencibia leads the majors with 22 RBIs since the break and is second with seven home runs. In his last 15 games, Arencibia has 18 RBIs. After giving up two runs on two hits in one-third of an inning against the New York Yankees on July 29, reliever Shawn Tolleson hasn't allowed a run in his last four innings of work.
The battle for last place: The Rangers (46-71) and Colorado Rockies are tied for the worst records in baseball. The Rangers start a seven-game homestand against the Rays and the Rockies begin a three-game road trip in San Diego on Monday night. The Astros (49-69) took two of three from the Rangers and conclude their six-game homestand with three against Minnesota.
The matchups: Monday night: RHP Colby Lewis (8-8, 5.50) vs. LHP Drew Smyly (6-10, 3.98). This is Smyly's second start for the Rays since the David Price trade. Tuesday: RHP Nick Tepesch (4-7, 4.46) vs. RHP Jeremy Hellickson (1-1, 2.61). Wednesday: RHP Miles Mikolas (1-4, 6.57) vs. RHP Chris Archer (7-6, 3.33). Thursday: RHP Yu Darvish (10-7, 3.06) vs. RHP Jake Odorizzi (8-9, 3.89).