Series Preview: Tampa Bay Rays Visit The Chicago White Sox


Apr 24, 2014; St. Petersburg, FL, USA; Tampa Bay Rays left fielder David DeJesus (7) is congratulated by first baseman James Loney (21) and shortstop Yunel Escobar (11) after he hit a 2-run home run during the second inning against the Minnesota Twins at Tropicana Field. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

After splitting a series with the AL East leading New York Yankees, the hope was that the Tampa Bay Rays would build upon that momentum against the Minnesota Twins. Unfortunately, that’s not how baseball works, and the Twins were able to take 2 of 3 from the Rays at Tropicana Field. In the two losses to the Twins, the Rays had the bases loaded with an opportunity to take the lead (in Wednesday’s game, had they scored, they would’ve won), but were unable to capitalize with runners in scoring position. The Rays finished the homestand with a 3-4 record and are now in 4th place in the American League East Division.

[table id=2 /]

The trip to Chicago kicks off a 10 game road trip that spans the Windy City, Boston, and New York. The White Sox are currently two games back of the Detroit Tigers in the AL Central, and are coming off a series split with their division rivals. It will be critical for the Rays to take advantage of these divisional games against the Red Sox and Yankees in order to make up some ground within the division. The rotation is still struggling to deal with the recent injuries, but the offense has started clicking. In the first 15 games of the season (heading into this past homestand), the Rays scored 45 runs. During their 7 games at the Trop, the Rays offense put up 48 runs. Joe Maddon needs to get his team aligned and working on all cylinders, but on the bright side, the season is still young.

Series Preview:

Game 1: Tampa Bay Rays @ Chicago White Sox

Friday, April 25th @ 8:10 p.m. EST

TV: Sun Sports

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

Chris Archer (2-1, 3.65 ERA/1.95 FIP) vs. Erik Johnson (1-1, 5.32 ERA/3.86 FIP )

Chris Archer recovered very nicely from his previous debacle against the Baltimore Orioles, throwing 6.2 innings and allowing only 3 hits and 1 ER in a 16-1 victory over the New York Yankees. For the first time this season, Archer didn’t allow a free pass and on the season he has a 1.82 BB/9 and a 4.2 K/BB ratio. He’ll have his work cut out for him against the White Sox–they are second in the league in runs scored and are slashing .270/.332/.435 as a team. Erik Johnson has strung together two solid pitching performances after beginning the season in disappointing fashion. The 24-year old right-hander has totaled 11.2 innings in his last two starts, allowing only 2 ER and 4 hits, while striking out 11. As with Archer, the big concern for Johnson is control–in those same two starts, he allowed 7 walks and has totaled 11 on the season through 22 innings. The Rays offense needs to be patient and force Johnson to earn his outs if they are going to be successful.

Prediction: Archer needs to step up and become the guy to stop this losing streak. Traditionally, the Rays offense has made young starters look like Cy Young winners, but not this time. Rays win the opener.

Game 2: Tampa Bay Rays @ Chicago White Sox

Saturday, April 26th @ 7:10 p.m. EST

TV: Sun Sports, MLB Network

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

Cesar Ramos (0-1, 4.91 ERA/4.32 FIP) vs. John Danks (2-0, 2.84 ERA/4.11 FIP )

During his last start against the Yankees, Cesar Ramos provided a serviceable outing, tossing five innings of 1 run baseball. Unfortunately for Ramos, the Rays offense decided to stay in the clubhouse and watch re-runs of The Big Bang Theory on TBS instead of showing up to support their teammate. Reportedly, when the media entered the locker room for post game comments, they interrupted a verbal spat between Evan Longoria and Wil Myers (combined 0-10), who were arguing over which one of them would have a more realistic shot with Kaley Cuoco. A local reporter informed the two of them that Kaley had recently gotten married, effectively ending the dispute. Cesar looked on from across the room in utter disappointment…

Prediction: Danks gives the Rays offense trouble and the White Sox tie up the series with a win.

Game 3: Tampa Bay Rays @ Chicago White Sox

Sunday, April 27th @ 2:10 p.m. EST

TV: Sun Sports

Radio: WDAE 620 AM /95.3 FM, WAMA 1550 (Sp.)

David Price (3-1, 4.04 ERA/3.41 FIP) vs. TBD

David Price struck out 12 batters in his last outing, a complete game victory over the Minnesota Twins. He improved to 3-1 on the season and now owns a K/9 over 10. His ERA remains inflated by a difficult outing against the Yankees two starts ago and his BABIP is still 30+ points above his career average. All signs point to continued success moving forward, something that doesn’t seem to sit well with Joe Mauer. Knowing that he was almost a Florida State Seminole, I’d expect some “iffy” behavior out of Joe, but even Peter Warrick kept his actions above the belt:

You’re better than that Joseph Patrick Mauer. Keep it clean next time.

Prediction: Price dominates. Rays win.

Game 4: Tampa Bay Rays @ Chicago White Sox

Monday, April 28th @ 8:10 p.m. EST

TV: Sun Sports

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

Jake Odorizzi (1-2, 6.52 ERA/4.18 FIP) vs. Andre Rienzo (1-0, 4.91 ERA/5.36 FIP)

Odorizzi lasted just 3.1 innings against the Twins on Wednesday, and given the fact that the Rays don’t have another day off until Cinco de Mayo, here’s to hoping he lasts a little bit longer and saves the bullpen. He has not pitched well since his first start of the season; opponents are batting .307 against the young right-hander and he is averaging 4.66 BB/9. Rienzo is relatively green, having started only one game this season as the Sox work to deal with injuries to their rotation. He started 10 games last season for the White Sox, and struggled with his control, walking 4.5 batters per nine innings. The off-season didn’t seem to help the young Brazilian–in his three starts earlier this year in AAA, his BB/9 actually got worse.

Prediction: This will come down to which untested rookie can catch the other team off-guard. Rays win in a surprisingly low-scoring affair.

Players to Watch:

Apr 19, 2014; Arlington, TX, USA; Chicago White Sox first baseman Jose Abreu (79) before the game against the Texas Rangers at Globe Life Park in Arlington. Texas won 6-3. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

Jose Abreu, 1B: Kid drops bombs.

Matt Joyce, DH/OF: Joyce typically only plays well in the month of May, but he has started the 2014 campaign hot. He has been making the most of his platoon opportunities, leading the Rays in batting average (.364) and OPS (1.043).

For more information on the upcoming series, visit the Fansided team pages for the Tampa Bay Rays and Chicago White Sox.

For more coverage of the Rays & other Tampa Bay area sports, follow us on Twitter and like us on Facebook.