Padres-Rays preview

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- One day after Wil Myers returned to face the Rays, another former Tampa Bay player will oppose his former team Tuesday.

San Diego Padres right-hander Edwin Jackson, who made headlines for and against the Rays, will oppose Tampa Bay left-hander Blake Snell in the middle game of a three-game series at Tropicana Field.

Jackson pitched for Tampa Bay from 2006-08, then threw an unusual no-hitter for the Arizona Diamondbacks against the Rays on June 25, 2010. He somehow walked eight batters in a 149-pitch gem.

The 32-year-old veteran opened this season as a reliever with the Marlins (0-1, 5.91 ERA in eight outings), but he has fared well since joining the Padres (3-1, 3.62 ERA in five starts). His last outing saw him scatter two hits over seven scoreless innings while striking out seven in a win against the Pittsburgh Pirates on Wednesday.

For his career, Jackson is 3-2 with a 2.54 ERA in his career against the Tampa Bay.

While Jackson has appeared with 11 major league teams, Snell has made just 11 major league starts. The rookie is 3-5 with a 3.18 ERA and coming off his worst outing of the season, when he lasted only 1 2/3 innings and gave up five runs (two earned) in a loss to the Toronto Blue Jays on Wednesday.

Snell has 58 strikeouts in 56 2/3 innings, for the best rate in the American League among rookie pitchers with 50 or more innings. His only previous interleague outing was a strong one, when he struck out nine and held the Rockies to one hit in six scoreless innings at Colorado on July 19.

"There's been a lot of impressive things about Blake Snell," Rays manager Kevin Cash told "His confidence, not to be confused with cockiness -- the confidence and the way he feels he can go out there and compete has been so impressive. The way he acted right after that game is pretty impressive. ... I know he's itching to get back out there."

The Rays have had improved starting pitching since the All-Star break, with Monday's starter, Drew Smyly, improving to 3-0 in his past five starts with a 2.25 ERA. He has more wins in those five starts than in his first 18 this season. On Monday, he used a deceptive mix of pitches to leave the Padres' hitters guessing.

The Rays are 14-15 since the All-Star break, recovering from a terrible month entering the break, and improved starting pitching has been a big part of the turnaround.

Snell is just coming into his rhythm as a young starting pitcher, but Smyly said the staff as a whole has built a positive momentum in the past month, one it hopes to continue through the final six weeks of the season.

"You have to go out there and believe, to execute pitches and expect good results to come," Smyly said. "I don't know if it's luck, but everything evens out over the course of the season."

After giving up three runs in the first two innings Monday, the Padres are looking for a quicker start Tuesday.

"We just didn't play that well, didn't come out with the intensity we should have early in the game," said Myers, who went 1-for-4. "I think we need to do a little better job, me especially -- the whole team needs to do a better job early in the games, because we've been fighting late. But those first few at-bats early in the game are just as important. That's one thing we need to do going forward, making sure we have more intensity early in the games."