Apr 3, 2014; St. Petersburg, FL, USA; Tampa Bay Rays starting pitcher Chris Archer (22) throws the ball during the first inning against the Toronto Blue Jays at Tropicana Field. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Tampa Bay Rays vs. Kansas City Royals Series Preview


After opening the 2014 Major League Baseball season with a seven game home stand, the Tampa Bay Rays travel to Kansas City to take on the Royals in a three game series beginning tonight. The trip to the Midwest kicks off a nine game road trip for the Rays, with stops in Cincinnati and Baltimore. The Rays took two of three against the visiting Texas Rangers over the weekend to improve to 4-3 overall. Tampa Bay has the early jump in the AL East with a 0.5 game lead over the New York Yankees.

Standings:

Tampa Bay Rays: 4-3; +12 (run differential)

New York Yankees: 3-3 (0.5 GB); -2

Toronto Blue Jays: 3-4 (1 GB); -9

Boston RedSox: 2-4 (1.5 GB); -5

Baltimore Orioles: 2-4 (1.5 GB); -9

The Rays will look to recover from Sunday’s loss at the hands of Yu Darvish and the Texas Rangers after going 0-11 with runners in scoring position (.208 on the season). The Rays will also look to avenge last season’s series against the Royals, which saw them lose 6 of 7, allowing 7 or more runs in five of the match-ups.

 

Series Preview:

Game 1: Tampa Bay Rays @ Kansas City Royals

8:10 p.m. EST

TV: Sun Sports

Radio: WDAE 620 AM /95.3 FM, WGES 680 (Sp.)

Matt Moore (0-1, 3.18 ERA/5.57 FIP) vs. Jason Vargas (0-0, 1.29 ERA/3.67 FIP )

Matt Moore labored through his first outing of the season, a 3-0 loss to the Toronto Blue Jays. He went 5.2 innings, allowing 2 ER, striking out 4 and walking 3. Efficiency will be key for Moore, who was able to work himself out of some difficult situations in his season debut (92.1% strand rate). Jason Vargas, who inked a 4 year, $32M contract during the offseason, enters Monday night’s game after a strong season debut. Vargas earned a no-decision against the Tigers after the Royals rallied in the ninth to tie the game (the Tigers would prevail in the extra frame). The lefty’s final line read 7 innings, 5 hits, 1 ER, and a 6:1 strikeout to walk ratio.

Prediction: Rays get to Vargas early, and hold on to win the opener.

 

Sep 23, 2013; Seattle, WA, USA; Kansas City Royals starting pitcher Yordano Ventura (30) pitches to the Seattle Mariners during the 1st inning at Safeco Field. Mandatory Credit: Steven Bisig-USA TODAY Sports

Game 2: Tampa Bay Rays @ Kansas City Royals

8:10 p.m. EST

TV: Sun Sports

Radio: WDAE 620 AM /95.3 FM, WGES 680 (Sp.)

Chris Archer (1-0, 3.00 ERA/ 1.77 FIP) vs. Yordano Ventura (0-0, 2014 Debut)

The Tampa Bay Rays will get their first look at Royals right-hander Yordano Ventura on Tuesday, as the 22 year-old Dominican native makes his 2014 season debut. Ventura was impressive during Spring Training, averaging just under a strikeout per inning and a 2.70 ERA across 23.1 innings. Chris Archer earned a win against the Blue Jays to start off his 2014 campaign, throwing 6 innings of 4 hit, 7 strikeout ball. Archer held a potent Toronto line-up to a .190 batting average, and he appears ready and able to build upon a strong rookie season.

Prediction: Rays struggle to figure out Ventura and the Royals offense collects a clutch hit to spoil Archer’s solid outing as the Rays lose.

 

Game 3: Tampa Bay Rays @ Kansas City Royals

2:10 p.m. EST

TV: Sun Sports

Radio: WDAE 620 AM /95.3 FM

Jake Odorizzi (1-0, 0.00 ERA/ 3.27 FIP) vs. Jeremy Guthrie (1-0, 6.35 ERA/ 4.69 FIP)

The Royals spotted Jeremy Guthrie seven early runs in his 2014 season debut, allowing him to hang on for the win against the Chicago WhiteSox. Guthrie wasn’t sharp, allowing 7 hits and 4 ER across 5.2 innings. It is worth noting that the WhiteSox offense benefited from a bit of luck, batting .368 on balls put in play (BABIP). Jake Odorizzi held the Texas Rangers to no runs and 3 hits over 6 innings, earning the win in an 8-1 victory. Odorizzi struck out 4 and walked 3, throwing only 57 of his 95 pitches for strikes.

Prediction: Odorizzi shows the Royals what they traded away last season, and earns the victory for the Rays in the series rubber match.

 

Players to Watch:

Salvador Perez, C: Perez has started the season off on fire, hitting .438/.550/.688 with 4 doubles and 4 walks.

Wil Myers, RF: Myers makes his second return visit to Kansas City following the James Shields trade, after appearing in one game against the Royals last season. Offensively, Wil has started off slowly with a .217/.308/.304 slash line, though he does seem a bit more comfortable playing the outfield.

 

For more information on the upcoming series, visit the Fansided team pages for the Tampa Bay Rays and Kansas City Royals, as well as KC Kingdom.

 

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Tags: Major League Baseball Rays