Victor Martinez’s 21 home runs this season are only four short of his career high (25 in 2007).The Tampa Bay Rays and Detroit Tigers play the second game of their four-game series tonight (7 ET, ESPN/WatchESPN). We take a look at some of the things the broadcast crew will talk about.
Rays' offense on the rebound?
Tampa Bay is averaging only 3.76 runs per game this season, which ranks 26th in MLB and 14th in the AL. Since scoring 4.96 runs per game in 2009, Tampa’s scoring has gone down every season.
Rays on road - this season
Tampa Bay’s offense has been especially anemic on the road this season. But the Rays are 6-2 on their current road trip and the offense appears to be making some progress.
Alex Cobb takes the ball for the Rays. He started the season off strong with a 1.89 ERA over his first three starts but has been inconsistent since coming off the DL in late May (5.16 ERA in eight starts). While Cobb has been up and down at times, he has the fourth-highest ground-ball rate in the American League (56.5 percent).
Expect to see plenty of changeups from Cobb. He throws it 32 percent of the time, the second-highest rate in the majors (with a minimum of 10 starts). Miguel Cabrera is hitting .412 against changeups this season, the third-highest rate in the AL.
For the Tigers, Drew Smyly looks to bounce back from the shortest start of his career. He allowed four runs and eight hits in only 2 1/3 innings Sunday against the Astros. Smyly had pitched well before that with a 1.44 ERA in his previous four starts.
Hail to Victor
Since July 1 last season, Victor Martinez leads the majors in hitting (.347). He already has 21 home runs this season, just four short of his career high (25 in 2007).
Lowest swing-and-miss Percentage
Despite the power, Martinez has the lowest swing-and-miss rate in baseball this season (8.2 percent). He is one of five hitters to miss on less than 10 percent of swings this season, and the other four have combined for six home runs.
Longoria lacking power
Evan Longoria has seen his power numbers fall off this season. His 10 homers would be his fewest before the All-Star break in any first half in which he played at least 25 games.
His slugging percentage has dropped to a career-low .390, which ranks 108th among 167 qualified hitters. Notable players with a higher slugging percentage include light-hitting speedsters Dee Gordon (.412), Alcides Escobar (.410) and Billy Hamilton (.400).