The Tampa Bay Rays (38-31) and Philadelphia Phillies (33-38) will open up a three-game interleague series on Friday night at Citizens Bank Park, with the first pitch scheduled for 7:05 ET
Tampa Bay Rays at Philadelphia Phillies
Tampa Bay will begin its fifth consecutive series against an opponent from the National League East, as it looks to snap a two-game losing streak in the process, which has dropped the club 3.5 games back of the New York Yankees in the AL East division. The Rays offense has been limited to three runs or fewer over their last six contests, while also hitting just .225 overall against left-handed pitchers. Tampa Bay is 9-14 versus southpaws this season, with the “under” going 11-10 in that situation.
Rays starting pitcher James Shields (7-4, 3.72 ERA) didn’t earn a decision in a 4-3 home loss to the Miami Marlins last time out, giving up three runs (zero earned) and eight hits over 7.2 frames. The right-hander owns a 10-8 record and 4.04 ERA in 25 interleague appearances (24 starts), including a 10-4 win over the Phillies on June 16, 2006. In seven road outings this year, Shields has gone 5-2 with a 3.72 ERA, surrendering six home runs in 46 combined innings.
Philadelphia has lost 12 of its last 14 games, giving the club the second-worst mark in baseball over that span. “It’s baseball,” commented Phillies outfielder Shane Victorino about the situation. “Somebody’s got to win.” The Phillies have also managed to lose 11 of their last 15 games at home, which directly followed a season-best four-game winning streak in front of their home fans from May 13-18. Philadelphia is 4-8 in interleague play, with the “over” going 8-4 in those contests.
Phillies starting pitcher Cliff Lee (0-3, 3.48 ERA) has watched the club drop his last three outings, as he gets set to make his first home start since June 5. The left-hander is 0-3 with a 3.53 ERA in five outings at this ball park, issuing just four walks and striking out 41 in 35.2 combined frames. In 13 career starts versus the Rays, Lee has tallied a 6-5 record and 2.87 ERA, limiting them to a .228 batting average. His run-support average of 2.90 is currently the third-worst in all of baseball.
Bettors will likely back the Phillies due to their 9-4 mark in series openers, while the Rays are 1-4 in Shields’ last five efforts as a road underdog of +110 to +150.