The Tampa Bay Rays will attempt to win consecutive home games in over a month tonight as they host the Detroit Tigers in the third game of a four-game set.
Tampa Bay picked up a 4-2 victory on Friday behind a strong showing from starting pitcher David Price. The win snapped a four-game losing slide for the Rays.
"We looked more normal," Rays manager Joe Maddon said after the game. "More like how we're supposed to look. I think the energy level was better. Why? I have no idea why. It was just a matter of getting over that weekend at Bernie's in Kansas City and Philadelphia, it just got better. It was just a matter of time. We have great professionals right here. It's not always going to be an oil painting, but I really liked the way we went after it tonight."
Left-fielder Desmond Jennings was the hero for Tampa Bay with two solo home runs in four at-bats. Designated hitter Luke Scott and outfielder Ben Zobrist also drove in runs in the winning effort. Price, meanwhile, pitched very well before leaving the game in the eighth inning with an apparent lower back issue.
The Rays hope Jeremy Hellickson's return from the 15-day DL will go smoother than his last start. The right-hander gave up eight runs in just 3 2/3 innings to the Mets on June 14 and has been sidelined with right shoulder inflammation since. The young starter threw a bullpen session on Monday to prepare for his return.
"It went good. I threw 60 pitches, probably at 80, 90 percent. I felt really good," Hellickson said. "I probably threw a little more than was planned. I felt really good throwing everything, getting back on the mound, getting the feel out there."
Hellickson has been quite good at Tropicana Field this season as he owns a 2.94 ERA and a 1.20 WHIP in his eight home starts. Hellickson is 1-2 with a 1.77 ERA versus Detroit in his career.
Delmon Young belted a solo home run for Detroit in Friday's loss and first baseman Prince Fielder drove in the other run. Young is 6-for-13 with three RBI in the last three games, and 7-for-16 versus Tampa Bay in 2012. Slugger Miguel Cabrera was held hitless after going 4-for-5 with a double, home run, and pair of RBI in the series opener.
Fielder and Cabrera are a combined 1-for-7 in their careers versus Hellickson.
Detroit's Rick Porcello will be dueling Hellickson today. The right-hander has been on a hot streak as of late, allowing only three earned runs in his last two outings to lower his ERA from 5.18 to 4.71. The 23-year old is slowly developing into a reliable starter. His accurate sinker helped him hold the powerful Rangers to just one run over six innings in his last start on Monday.
Porcello is 1-1 with a 3.15 ERA in three career starts against Tampa Bay.
The Tigers lead the all-time series between the teams, 55-53, and won six of seven last season and two of three in a series earlier this season at Comerica Park.