The Devil Rays will try to keep their strong hitting going when they travel to U.S. Cellular Field for the opener of a weekend series against Loaiza and the streaking Chicago White Sox.
Tampa Bay set a club record with 21 hits and tied the record for runs scored in a game in Thursday’s 15-9 win over the Boston Red Sox. The Devil Rays also scored 15 runs last Sunday against Texas. The Rays’ seven runs in the fifth tied the team’s season high for runs in an inning, also accomplished last Sunday.
“I was able to see the ball good and do something different in every at-bat,” said Perez, who is batting .344 (21-for-61) with two homers and 10 RBIs in just 19 games. “I’m happy because we have a young team here and we all work hard and we want to keep getting better.”
However, it could be an altogether different story for the Rays on Friday against Loaiza, who leads the American League with a 2.16 ERA, and the White Sox, winners of a season-high seven straight.
Loaiza, who started for the AL at the All-Star game in Chicago on July 15, has allowed just nine earned runs in his last four starts, spanning 29 innings, but is just 1-3 in that span. The White Sox scored just four runs in three straight losses before giving Loaiza 10 to work with in a 10-1 victory over Detroit on Sunday, his career-high 12th win of the season.
“It’s outstanding, just coming from the All-Star game to today,” Loaiza said. “I just got to keep battling and go for my 13th win and go on from there.”
The Mexican right-hander has shown excellent stamina, pitching into the seventh inning in 14 of his 20 starts, and has allowed more than three earned runs in an outing just twice all season.
STANDINGS: Devil Rays - 5th place, 26 GB, AL East. White Sox - 2nd place, 4 GB, AL Central.
DEVIL RAYS PROBABLE STARTER: Jorge Sosa (3-7, 4.48 ERA). Sosa, who has won two of his last three starts, allowed two earned runs and four hits over seven innings in a 15-4 win over Texas on Sunday. The hard-throwing right-hander has faced Chicago just once in his two-year career, throwing 5 1-3 scoreless innings in a 3-2 win on July 5.
WHITE SOX PROBABLE STARTER: Loaiza (12-5, 2.16 ERA). Loaiza is 3-6 with one save and a 4.87 ERA in 17 career appearances, including 14 starts, against Tampa Bay.
OFFENSIVE LEADERS: Devil Rays - Rocco Baldelli, .304 avg.; Aubrey Huff, 18 HRs and 55 RBIs; Baldelli and Huff, 51 runs; Carl Crawford, 24 SBs. White Sox - Magglio Ordonez, .312 avg.; Frank Thomas, 23 HRs; Carlos Lee, 63 RBIs; Carl Everett, 63 runs; Lee and Willie Harris, 9 SBs.
SEASON SERIES: Devil Rays, 2-1.
STREAKS AND NOTES: Devil Rays - C Toby Hall has emerged from a late-June/early July slump to bat .358 (14-for-39) in his last 11 games. … The Rays are 10-10 in July after going 5-21 in June. They have six games left in July and still have an opportunity to have their first winning month since September, 2001. They also can tie their record for wins in a month with 16 (August 1999). … At 36-64, the Rays are two games better than the 2001 and ’02 teams were through 100 games (32-68 each year). White Sox - DH Thomas went 2-for-6 Thursday and remains one home run shy of 400 for his career. … OF Ordonez has now hit safely in 15 of 17 games and 28 of his last 33. He’s hitting .397 over that stretch (50-for-126). … The White Sox sent minor league OF Anthony Webster and RHPs Frankie Francisco and Josh Rupe to the Texas Rangers on Thursday to complete the July 1 trade in which the White Sox acquired OF Carl Everett and cash.
ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Devil Rays - 14-33 on the road; White Sox - 31-19 at home.