MLB

Fri, May 20, 2011 - 7:10 PM ET
 

Rays-Marlins Preview

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Andy Sonnanstine has started only six games - with so-so results - over the past two years for the Tampa Bay Rays, but he spent much of his first three seasons as part of the rotation.

Be it as a starter or reliever, Sonnanstine's success against the Florida Marlins has been consistent.

Sonnanstine opposes hard-throwing Anibal Sanchez when the Rays visit the Marlins to begin a three-game interleague series Friday night.

Inserted into the rotation after Jeff Niemann (back) was placed on the disabled list, Sonnanstine (0-1, 3.92 ERA) will make his third start of the season after struggling in his first two. He allowed four runs and eight hits in five innings of a 9-3 loss to Baltimore on Sunday.

The right-hander has allowed six runs and 12 hits - including three homers - in 8 1-3 innings as a starter, compared to a 2.19 ERA in 12 1-3 innings over six relief appearances.

Though manager Joe Maddon hesitated to commit to Sonnanstine in the rotation following Sunday's game, he may be comfortable with the idea for at least this outing.

In four starts versus Florida from 2007-2009, Sonnanstine went 3-0 with a 3.09 ERA and 22 strikeouts. In three relief appearances - all last season - he had one save and a 3.86 ERA with eight strikeouts in 9 1-3 innings.

Sonnanstine, who figures to get a chance to bat Friday, is a .318 career hitter.

He'll look to help the Rays (25-19) rebound from their fourth loss in six games, a 3-2 defeat Thursday at Toronto.

Sam Fuld, hitting .152 in May after he appeared headed for a breakthrough season in April, did not play Thursday. Maddon said the slumping outfielder would sit again Friday.

"I talked to him and said, 'Hey, it might be the perfect time to go two days in a row,'" Maddon told the Rays' official website. "It just worked out perfectly."

Sanchez (3-1, 2.90) likely won't make it easy for the Rays to get back on track.

The right-hander has won his last two starts - both against Washington - while allowing five hits and striking out 20 in 15 scoreless innings. He's 3-0 with a 1.62 ERA and 35 strikeouts over his last five starts and hasn't lost since April 10.

Sanchez beat the Rays 14-9 last June 11 in his only career start against them, giving up four runs in seven innings.

The Marlins (24-18) hope to avoid their second three-game losing streak of the month after going 1 for 9 with runners in scoring position Thursday en route to a 3-0 loss to the Chicago Cubs.

"That's pretty much the story,'' manager Edwin Rodriguez said. "It's not a matter of lacking effort or intensity, it's just not going our way right now.''

While Florida has gotten off to a solid start overall, Hanley Ramirez has not. The struggling shortstop went 2 for 5 on Thursday, raising his average to an anemic .217.

Ramirez helped the Marlins take four of six meetings from the Rays last season by hitting .368 with a home run and six RBIs in the season series.

Florida has an NL-best 127-107 record in interleague play since it was introduced in 1997.

Tagged: Marlins, Rays, Anibal Sanchez, Andy Sonnanstine

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