American League Preview from The Sports Network
Wednesday, July 3rd (All times Eastern)
Tampa Bay Rays (45-39) at Houston Astros (30-54), 8:10 p.m.
Probable Starting Pitchers: Tampa Bay - Roberto Hernandez (4-9, 4.98) Houston - Bud Norris (5-7, 3.35)
(Sports Network) - The Tampa Bay Rays have piled up the runs so far in their four-game set with the Houston Astros and will shoot for a series win Wednesday at Minute Maid Park.
Pitching has also helped in this series, as Matt Moore hurled seven shutout innings and struck out nine in Monday's 12-0 win. It was David Price's turn in Tuesday's 8-0 verdict and the reigning AL Cy Young Award winner tossed seven scoreless frames and fanned 10 batters.
Price, of course, was making his first start since May 15 because of a stint on the disabled list with a strained left triceps. The left-hander scattered three hits and is 2-4 on the season.
"That's probably the best I've felt on a baseball field maybe in my entire life," Price said. "I felt like that's the most control I've had of a baseball game in a very long time."
Desmond Jennings homered and drove in four runs, Yunel Escobar had two runs batted in and both Wil Myers and James Loney added an RBI for the Rays, winners in four in a row and seven of nine games. Loney is riding a 13-game hitting streak and Evan Longoria returned for the Rays following a three-game absence with a foot injury and went 2-for-4.
The Rays are 5 1/2 games off the AL East lead and will return home for 10 straight games later this week.
Hoping to keep the pitching prowess going for Tampa Bay Wednesday will be Roberto Hernandez. Hernandez has a pair of tough acts to follow and is currently riding a three-start losing streak. He pitched well in a 3-0 loss to Toronto last Wednesday and gave up all three runs over eight innings to fall to 1-4 in his past five decisions.
Hernandez, who is 4-9 in 15 starts with a 4.98 ERA and pitched for Cleveland from 2006-12, has struggled on the road this season to the tune of a 1-5 mark and a 5.93 ERA in seven starts.
The Astros continued to flounder and have dropped five in a row and seven of their last eight games.
Erik Bedard had a rough outing Tuesday and was touched for four runs and six hits in 5 1/3 innings with six walks and three strikeouts. Josh Fields gave up a run in relief and Brett Oberholtzer allowed three in two innings.
Houston managed just three hits off Price and had four total, two of which came from the bat of Carlos Corporan.
"That's why he's a Cy Young winner," Astros manager Bo Porter said of Price. "And he pitched like it tonight."
Porter's club has scored only one run in its last three games. The Astros are just 1-6 on a nine-game homestand and will open an eight-game road trip at Texas on Friday.
Bud Norris draws the start for Houston Wednesday and he is 0-3 in his last five outings with back-to-back no-decisions. He was solid in last Friday's 4-2 defeat at the hands of the LA Angels and was reached for only one unearned run and four hits in seven innings.
Norris is 5-7 in 17 starts with a 3.35 earned run average and 3-3 in 10 trips to the Minute Maid Park mound. In two career starts against Tampa Bay, the right-handed Norris owns an 0-1 mark and a 6.30 ERA.
Tampa Bay swept a three-game series with the Astros the last time the clubs met in 2011 at Houston.
07/03 10:39:24 ET