American League Preview from The Sports Network|
Wednesday, August 1st
(All times Eastern)
Tampa Bay Rays (54-50) at Oakland Athletics (56-47), 3:35 p.m.
Probable Starting Pitchers: Tampa Bay - Alex Cobb (4-8, 4.93)
Oakland - Jarrod Parker (7-4, 3.38)
(Sports Network) - Two teams with postseason aspirations battle on Wednesday
when the Tampa Bay Rays and Oakland Athletics play the rubber match of a
three-game set at the Coliseum.
Both Oakland and Tampa are within striking distance in their respective
divisions, but their likely routes to the playoffs will come in the wild card,
where the A's currently hold one of the two spots with the Rays trailing by 2
Tampa got a little closer in that race on Tuesday, as James Shields fanned 11
hitters en route to his first shutout of the season in the Rays' 8-0 triumph.
With the 11 Ks, Shields (9-7) became the first pitcher in team history to
strike out 10 or more hitters in three consecutive starts. He allowed just
three hits and did not issue a walk in the victory for the Rays, their third
in the last four games.
"He had a real simple approach to the game and came out throwing fastballs,"
Rays manager Joe Maddon said. "It was textbook, he was outstanding. I loved
his approach today. Throw your fastball and hit your spots."
B.J. Upton finished 2-for-5 with a pair of RBI while Desmond Jennings and Jeff
Keppinger added RBI base hits for the Rays. Ben Zobrist, Carlos Pena and Sean
Rodriguez each contributed an RBI in the win.
Jemile Weeks, George Kottaras and Chris Carter each had a hit in defeat for
the A's, who finished the month of July with an outstanding 19-5 record. They
didn't have a runner reach second base all night.
Tom Milone (9-8) was tagged with the loss after allowing five runs on seven
hits and a walk over six innings.
"He just probably didn't have his best command," Athletics manager Bob Melvin
said about Milone. "I think we probably have to cut him a break. He's been so
good here that you're not always going to be that good."
Heading to the hill for the Rays this afternoon will be Alex Cobb, who is 1-5
with a 6.25 ERA in his last six starts. Cobb's latest loss came on Friday in
Anaheim, as he allowed three runs and eight hits in seven innings to fall to
4-8 to go along with a 4.93 ERA.
He has lost eight of his last 10 starts and could be the odd man out when
Jeff Niemann returns from the disabled list.
"You can stress about that your whole career, really," Cobb said. "Just
because it's getting down to where a few starts until he's back, you don't
look at it any differently than you have your whole career. You go out there
every start trying to win and compete in every game. If you do that, then you
don't worry about all the little things that go along with it. My approach is
going to stay the same whether he's ready tomorrow or late August or
Oakland, meanwhile, will counter with righty Jarrod Parker, who has been a big
reason behind the A's success this season, but hasn't been sharp his last few
times out. Parker was roughed up by the Baltimore Orioles on Friday to the
tune of six runs and eight hits in five innings. He also struck out eight
batters, but did not factor in the decision of his team's 14-9 win.
"A couple bad pitches I'd like to have back," Parker said afterward. "Some of
those pitches I probably could have hit out of the park."
Parker, who has never faced the Rays, has given up four or more runs in three
of his last four starts and is 7-4 on the year with a 3.38 ERA.
Oakland took two of three from the Rays earlier in the year.
08/01 10:29:50 ET