ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — The Tampa Bay Rays, three days removed from an 11-game losing streak, bounced back by taking two of three games from the Boston Red Sox, but, starting Thursday, they will face another surging team in a four-game series against the Detroit Tigers, who open an 11-game road trip that goes right up to the All-Star break.
“Especially against teams that we're familiar with, we should go in with a lot of confidence,” Tigers outfielder Cameron Maybin said after Wednesday's 10-3 win over the Marlins. “The biggest thing is, going into the break, we want to bring as much energy and effort as we can, not take any day too lightly and make sure we finish strong going into the break.”
Detroit (40-38) is coming off a 6-3 homestand, one that included a three-game sweep at the hands of the Indians, but they will get another shot at them immediately after the Rays series. The Tigers had 15 hits in Wednesday's win, and home runs from Miguel Cabrera, Jarrod Saltalamacchia and 24-year-old Steven Moya, who has four home runs in his last six games.
Moya, huge at 6-foot-7 and 260 pounds, has always had power potential — he has 10 extra-base hits in 63 at-bats this season — but manager Brad Ausmus said his key is lowering the swing-and-miss factor and keeping control of his at-bats.
Detroit took two of three games from the Rays in May, and Thursday's starter is Jordan Zimmermann, who won one of those games, holding the Rays to two runs in 5 2/3 innings. He is now 9-4 with a 3.81 ERA, and will face the Rays' Jake Odorizzi, who has a comparable ERA at 3.93 ERA but a hard-luck 3-3 record.
Odorizzi has pitched well in his career against the Tigers, with a 2-1 record and 1.93 career ERA. He hopes to build off a strong start Wednesday by Tampa Bay's Matt Moore, who threw seven shutout innings and took a no-hitter into the sixth. It's the kind of starting pitching the Rays expected going into 2016, but haven't seen much of in a disappointing first half of the season. Moore outpitched former Rays ace David Price to pick up the win against Boston.
“I think everybody in this building has admiration for David Price and what he means to the organization,” Rays manager Kevin Cash said Wednesday. “Any time you get to compete against him, it is special. Matt Moore was a young pitcher when he was here. They follow him, they listen to him and to go toe-to-toe with that guy has to be special for Matt. He was outstanding.”
While Detroit has a week and a half on the road, the Rays are in the middle of an 11-game homestand, needing more consistent success at Tropicana Field as they try to scrap their way back to .500.