Looking to stay in NL West race, D-backs begin interleague trip with two-game set in Tampa.
By JACK MAGRUDERFS Arizona
The Diamondbacks are built pretty well for interleague play, truth be told, as they prepare for a two-game series against the AL East-leading Rays in Tampa. With productive left-handed bats Eric Chavez and Jason Kubel available to DH, the D-backs' lineup sets up well against right-handed starters, and the D-backs are scheduled to see two righties in Tampa Bay and a third in a makeup game Thursday in Texas.
It will be a crazy (if fashionable) trip because of the one-night stop in Dallas. The D-backs will wear their travel attire -- most dress in suits -- to the park for the final game in Tampa Bay on Wednesday and again on Thursday, because they will have flights each night.
The teams last met in 2010, when the D-backs took two of the last three games in Tampa, a series memorable because of Edwin Jackson's 149-pitch no-hitter in the first game of the series on June 25.
Who's hot for the Diamondbacks: Martin Prado, who has cut his pre-pregame hitting in the cages in half to one hour, has 13 hits in his last 31 at-bats (.419), with one home run and seven RBIs in that span. … Randall Delgado has not given up an earned run in 14 2/3 innings and is coming off his first career shutout in a 10-0 victory over the
Padres on Friday. ...
Brad Ziegler has converted both of his save opportunities since taking over the closer's role at the All-Star break. ... Wade Miley has won three of his last four decisions and has a 1,89 ERA over his last five starts.
Who's not hot for the Diamondbacks: Gerardo Parra has just four hits in his last 53 at-bats, although he has not carried that into the field, as he took a home run away from the Padres' Will Venable on Saturday night. He has one RBI in his last 28 games, and his batting average has dropped to a season-low .270. ... Ian Kennedy has not won since June 1 in Chicago against the Cubs, and he is 0-4 with a 5.86 ERA in his last nine starts. The D-backs have lost eight of those games.
Who's hot for the Rays: Rookie outfielder Wil Myers, one of the top prospects in baseball who was obtained from the
Royals in the James Shields offseason deal, has a 10-game hitting streak during which he is 19 for 41 (.463) with four homers and 12 RBIs. He had a two-homer game in Yankee Stadium on Sunday, and he has eight multiple-hit games in the streak. ...
Evan Longoria has an 11-game hitting streak, although he has only 13 hits (three homers) in that run. ... James Loney has 11 hits in his last 32 at-bats. ... Jeremy Hellickson has won his last six decisions over seven starts. ... Middle reliever Alex Torres has given up one earned run in the past 31 1/3 innings. He has given up nine hits and has 38 strikeouts in that time.
Who's not hot for the Rays: Roberto Hernandez, formerly known as Fausto Carmona, has lost five of his last six starts while giving up seven home runs. ... Catcher Jose Molina has three hits in his last 28 at-bats, and his backup, Jose Lobaton, has two hits in his last 25 at-bats.
Notes, quotes, odds and ends: Tampa Bay is the hottest team in baseball right now, having won 22 of its last 26 games after beating Boston in a makeup game Monday, even after a 39-minute rain delay in eighth inning while the
Red Sox fans were in the middle of their anthem, "Sweet Caroline." ... The D-backs are in the market for a left-hander specialist, and the Rays added right-handed relief help when they acquired Jesse Crain on Monday to shore up a busy bullpen. Crain, an All-Star with the White Sox who is 2-3 with an 0.74 ERA this season, will help ease the workload of setup man Joel Peralta, who leads the American League with 53 appearances and 27 holds. Crain is on the disabled list, however, and his return date is uncertain. ... Former D-back Kelly Johnson has had a nice, versatile season with the Rays. He has played first base, second base, third base, left field and DH while tallying 15 homers and 48 RBIs. This is the first time in his career that he has first or third. ... If matchups mean anything, Jason Kubel could have a big series in Tampa. He is 14 for 38 with three homers and 11 RBIs against Hernandez and 4 for 8 with two homers against Hellickson. Kubel was a late scratch Sunday with a sore back. ... Cliff Pennington is 6 for 20 against Hernandez and 3 for 8 with a homer against Hellickson.