The Tampa Bay Rays had to wait more than three months for star third baseman Evan Longoria to return to the lineup from a torn hamstring. It’s no coincidence that the Rays have made a charge with Longoria back in the lineup. The Rays improved to 14-3 since Longoria came off the disabled list and closed to within 2 1/2 games of the division-leading New York Yankees in the American League East after posting a 5-0 win over the Oakland Athletics in Thursday’s series opener.
The Rays improved to 16-5 in August and dropped Oakland into a tie with Baltimore and Detroit for the second wild card spot – 2 1/2 games behind Tampa Bay. The Athletics were unable to muster any offense in Thursday’s 5-0 loss, their second defeat in eight games. New acquisition Stephen Drew had two of their four hits, ending an 0-for-22 drought. Rookie left fielder Yoenis Cespedes went 0-for-4 Thursday to snap his eight-game hitting streak.
Athletics Rays Betting
When: 7:10 PM ET, Friday, August 24, 2012
Where: Tropicana Field, St. Petersburg, Florida
TV: 7:10 p.m. ET, CSCA (Oakland), Sun Sports (Tampa Bay)
PITCHING MATCHUP: Athletics RH Jarrod Parker (8-7, 6.35 ERA) vs. Rays LH Matt Moore (10-7, 3.57)
Parker halted a three-start losing streak with a sensational effort last time out, blanking the Cleveland Indians on six hits over eight innings. He lost at home to Tampa Bay on Aug. 1, giving up three runs on eight hits. It was the beginning of a three-start stretch in which Oakland scored a total of one run for him. The 23-year-old rookie is 4-3 in nine starts away from home.
After an ugly start to the season that saw him lost five of his first six decisions, Moore has turned things around. He’s been outstanding in the past month, going 4-0 and yielding only four runs in his last five starts. Since the start of June, the 23-year-old Moore has compiled a 9-2 record. He was hammered for eight runs in 4 2/3 innings in a home loss to Oakland on May 6.
1. Tampa Bay has 13 shutouts this year, second in baseball to the Los Angeles Angels (15).
2. Oakland was blanked for the major league-leading 15th time Thursday.
3. Tyson Ross, who started for the A’s on Thursday, was sent down to Triple-A Sacramento and will start working out of the bullpen.