Texas Rangers at Tampa Bay Rays game preview
ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- The American League West-leading Texas Rangers try to get back on a winning track when they face the Tampa Bay Rays in the rubber match of a three-game series at Tropicana Field on Sunday afternoon.
The Rangers send left-hander Martin Perez (8-8, 4.09 ERA) to the mound to face off against Rays lefty Drew Smyly (5-11, 4.85).
Texas (73-51) had its four-game winning streak snapped in an 8-2 loss Saturday against the Rays. The game got out of reach when the Rays scored four runs in the seventh inning off of Rangers reliever Keone Kela. Rangers manager Jeff Banister says his team has to pull it together quickly.
"We've got some work yet to do," Banister said. "We get Smyly, obviously another really good arm, guy's been pitching well of late. We've got to go out and put together a good baseball game."
The Rangers have struggled against Smyly, hitting .205 with only six extra-base hits lifetime against him.
Tampa Bay (51-70) is far out of any sort of playoff race but manager Kevin Cash is looking for some consistency from his ball club as it tries to avoid any more extended losing streaks for the rest of the season.
"I think it's important to be able to bounce back after a loss and not let it linger," Cash said. "That's what was so encouraging about (Saturday). We were able to come back out and play a good baseball game."
The Rays have been dealing with plenty of injuries in the recent week. Before Saturday's game, the team announced that Nick Franklin would be placed on the seven-day concussion disabled list after he was hit on the batting helmet by Kevin Kiermaier's bat on Wednesday. Franklin tried to return Friday but said when he went out to left field he "felt like he'd just pass out there."
Kiermaier missed Saturday's game with hip soreness after he was pulled out of Friday's game after two innings. It's uncertain whether he'll be back in the lineup Sunday.
Logan Forsythe, however, appears to be on track to return Sunday after missing the past games with back spasms. The Rays would definitely welcome his bat back in the lead-off spot but Cash said the team has to continue to battle through adversity.
"Sure you'd like to have all your guys healthy but that's not realistic over the course of a season," Cash said. "We will play with the guys that we have and try to make it work."
They will face Perez, who is coming off of a solid outing against the Oakland Athletics when he gave up one run and five hits in seven innings to earn the win. It was Perez's first win in his last eight starts even though he's pitched at least seven innings in three of his last four turns.
It's uncertain if the Rangers will have the services of third baseman Adrian Beltre on Sunday as he decides whether to take bereavement leave for a death in his family. Beltre was informed of his grandfather's death before Friday's game. He is 6-for-9 in the series with two home runs.