The Tampa Bay Rays are in the midst of a streak that could get them to the top of the American League East, and at the very least should keep them in the wild card race. The Rays have won five straight and 12 of 14 to pull into the wild card lead and creep within four games of the New York Yankees in the East. The Kansas City Royals had won three straight before dropping the opener.
The Royals had pulled themselves into sole possession of third place in the AL Central before stepping in front of the Tampa Bay train on Monday. Kansas City had averaged 4.3 runs in winning nine of its previous 12 games but managed only seven hits against the Rays’ league-leading pitching staff in Monday’s 5-1 setback. Tampa Bay has supported that staff with an average of 8.4 runs during the current five-game streak. The Rays’ run has coincided directly with the return of Evan Longoria, who had hit in four straight games before getting Monday off.
Royals Rays Betting
When: 7:10 PM ET, Tuesday, August 21, 2012
Where: Tropicana Field, St. Petersburg, Florida
TV: 7:10 p.m. ET, FS Kansas City, Sun Sports (Tampa Bay)
PITCHING MATCHUP: Royals RH Luke Hochevar (7-11, 5.24 ERA) vs. Royals LH David Price (16-4, 2.39)
Hochevar, who has only one win in his last seven starts, will serve as one half of the battle between former first-overall draft picks Tuesday. Hochevar was the top pick in 2006, with Price following the next year. Hochevar has not had the same kind of success early in his career but did turn in one of his best efforts against Tampa Bay on June 25. The right-hander pitched his second career shutout, allowing seven hits and striking out eight in the win. He is 2-2 with a 5.72 ERA in seven career starts against the Rays.
Price is pushing his way in the AL Cy Young Award discussion and has not lost since June 13. The left-hander has gone at least seven innings in each of his last 11 starts and is coming off a win at Los Angeles in which he surrendered only three hits in seven scoreless frames. Price missed the June series against the Royals but owns a career 1-0 record with a 1.93 ERA in three games – two starts – against them.
1. The Rays are expected to activate DH Luke Scott (oblique) from the disabled list Tuesday, and Longoria could start seeing time at third base as a result.
2. Royals LF Alex Gordon recorded two hits Monday, matching his previous career total at Tropicana Field (2-for-53).
3. Tampa Bay OF Desmond Jennings is batting .365 with eight extra-base hits in 13 games since Longoria’s return.