Two of the American League's young pitchers get together tonight at Tropicana Field, as the Seattle Mariners visit the Tampa Bay Rays to open a four-game series.
The Rays will start the league's reigning Rookie of the Year, right-hander Jeremy Hellickson, in search of his fourth consecutive victory to start his second full big-league season.
The Des Moines, Iowa native won four decisions in a brief callup with the Rays in 2010, then went 13-10 with a 2.95 earned run average across 29 starts while winning top rookie honors for Tampa Bay in 2011.
He's won three decisions in four starts so far in April while allowing 21 hits and eight earned runs in 25 1/3 innings, including a 3-2 defeat of the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim on April 25 in which he allowed a run on five hits in six innings.
Hellickson last faced the Mariners on Aug. 20 last season and earned an 8-0 win after tossing eight innings of six-hit ball with a walk and five strikeouts.
Seattle counters with 26-year-old righty Felix Hernandez, a three-time All- Star who won the Cy Young Award in 2010 after finishing second in the league voting a season earlier.
Hernandez won 14 games in 33 starts with the Mariners last season with a 3.47 earned run average in 233 2/3 innings.
He's won two of three decisions thus far in 2012, including a seven-inning performance on April 25 at Detroit in which he gave up just one run on four hits.
One start earlier, he got a tough-luck no-decision against Cleveland after throwing eight scoreless innings and striking out 12 in Seattle's 2-1 loss.
The start is the 10th of his career against the Rays. In the first nine, he's gone 3-2 with a 2.42 ERA in 67 innings, allowing 51 hits and striking out 67 batters.
On Sunday in Toronto, Henderson Alvarez tossed six-plus solid innings and the Blue Jays downed the Mariners, 7-2, in the finale of a three-game set at Rogers Centre.
Chone Figgins and Miguel Olivo homered for the Mariners, who lost the final two games of the series after winning four consecutive games.
Jason Vargas (3-2) gave up two runs on four hits and three walks while fanning four over six innings.
In Texas, David Price went 6 1/3 innings, Ben Zobrist was a home run shy of the cycle and the Rays downed the Rangers, 5-2, in the finale of a three-game series.
Price (4-1) allowed two runs on six hits and a walk while striking out six to earn the win. Fernando Rodney got Ian Kinsler to line out with the bases loaded in the ninth to pick up his seventh save of the season.
Zobrist, Desmond Jennings, Jeff Keppinger, Luke Scott and Sean Rodriguez all had an RBI for Tampa Bay, which has won nine of its last 11 games, including two of three in this series.
"The Rangers are really good but I think the Rays are too," said Tampa Bay manager Joe Maddon.