Preview: Davis hopes to avoid sixth consecutive winless start

The added incentive of facing his former team might be what Kansas City’s Wade Davis needs to record his first win in a month.

Facing Tampa Bay for the first time
since it traded him to the Royals, Davis tries to avoid a career-high
sixth consecutive winless start Sunday, while the Rays look to build on a
much-needed victory that was overshadowed by a frightening injury to a
key performer.

Including the postseason, Davis (3-5,
5.37 ERA) went 29-22 with a 3.92 ERA in 121 games – 65 starts – for
Tampa Bay from 2009-2012. After spending all last season pitching out of
the bullpen, the right-hander was dealt in December along with James
Shields to Kansas City as part of a seven-player trade.

“I’m not going to smile … there’s no
smiling,” Davis said of his return to Tampa. “We’re trying to win games
over here. We’re trying to get in a good position over here.”

Davis went 13-12 with a 3.67 ERA in 34 starts at Tropicana Field.

“It’s a good stadium to pitch in,” he
told the Royals’ official website. “It’s a pretty true ballpark. You’ve
got to hit it to hit it out – especially in center field. It’s a fair
game here.”

Davis went 2-0 with a 2.25 ERA in his
first three starts for the Royals (32-34), but is 1-5 with a 6.32 ERA in
the last 10. He allowed two runs in 6 2/3 innings while not factoring
in the decision of a 3-2 loss to Detroit on Tuesday, but is 0-2 with a
4.50 ERA in five since beating the Los Angeles Angels on May 15.

The Florida native went 0-5 in six starts from June 4-July 3, 2010.

As Davis tries to help the Royals
bounce back from their second loss in 11 games, 5-3 on Saturday, he’s
likely also concerned with the health of former Rays teammate Alex Cobb.

The right-hander was taken off on a
stretcher and suffered a mild concussion after he was struck on the
right ear by a liner from Eric Hosmer on Saturday.

“It’s just scary stuff, man,” Hosmer said. “I’m glad he’s alright.”

Cobb’s injury didn’t deter the Rays,
who hit three home runs to snap a four-game skid against the Royals and
win for the second time in seven overall.

“Such a heart-wrenching and terrible
thing to happen on a baseball field, but at the same time you have to
finish the game,” said Tampa Bay outfielder Matt Joyce, who homered for
the second straight day.

“The only thing you can do is just pray that he’s OK and pray for a speedy recovery.”

Joyce is batting .407 (11 for 27)
with four home runs and five RBIs in seven games. He’s hit .406 with
five homers in his last eight versus Kansas City.

Roberto Hernandez (4-6, 4.91) takes
the mound for the Rays looking to build on his last outing Tuesday when
he gave up three runs and struck out seven in seven innings of an 8-3
win over Boston.

The right-hander is 2-1 with a 3.00 ERA since he allowed 10 runs in six innings to go 0-1 in his previous two starts.

Ex-Ray Elliot Johnson went 1 for 4 on Saturday and is 9 for 19 (.474) against his former team this season.