The Cincinnati Reds and Tampa Bay Rays have split the first two games of their series that ends Wednesday at Tropicana Field
Cincinnati Reds at Tampa Bay Rays
Cincinnati blew an eighth inning lead in ultimately dropping a 4-3 contest in Tampa Bay Tuesday night and the offense struck out a season high 14 times in a nine-inning contest. The Reds also were dealt their second loss by surrendering a walk-off home run. “These are certainly tough to take,” Reds manager Dusty Baker stated. “”We’ve had a few of these, especially on the road.” The club is 2-3 on its current road trip and are now 7-1 all-time against the Rays. One weakness that is showing up more and more is the team’s inability to win close games, falling to 11-17 in one-run contests this year, after being 27-27 in such games during the 2010 campaign. Cincinnati is 4-10 during interleague play.
Reds starting pitcher Edinson Volquez is 4-3 with a 5.77 ERA in 14 starts this season and is looking to win his first game since June 7. The right-hander is coming off a no-decision effort at Baltimore, giving up four runs and seven hits over 4 1/3 innings. Volquez has appeared on the road seven times this year, producing an even 2-2 mark and 6.15 ERA. It’s important to note that in 12 of his 14 starts this season, he has allowed the game’s first run. He has registered a 12.86 ERA in the first inning this season and 4.10 afterwards.
Tampa Bay third baseman Evan Longoria was suffering through a miserable night until the bottom of the ninth when he hit his fourth career walk-off hit. “It’s always exciting to hit a walk-off,” Longoria commented. “It was actually pretty surreal, it was something that I felt like I hadn’t done in a long time.” He now has five home runs in his last eight games after managing to leave the yard just five times through his first 44 games. The victory was also important in bringing the club back to .500 at home for the season, while remaining 2 1/2 games back of the first-place Yankees in the American League East race. Tampa Bay is 10-4 during interleague action this year.
Rays starting pitcher James Shields enters with an 8-4 record and 2.29 ERA in 16 starts this season and has picked up three straight complete game victories. The right-hander has surrendered just two runs (one earned) and 12 hits over his last 27 innings of work. Shields has pitched masterfully at home only to come away with an even 3-3 mark, as opponents are hitting .213 against him. In his career, he is 8-6 with a 4.49 ERA in 20 interleague appearances (19 starts), including a perfect 2-0 mark and 0.00 ERA in two outings this year.
Bettors will likely back the Rays due to their 7-1 mark as an interleague favorite, while the Reds are 0-4 in Volquez’s last four outings versus the American League