Joe Kennedy hopes to prove manager Lou Piniella made the right decision by leaving him in the starting rotation as the Tampa Bay Devil Rays begin a three-game series with the Baltimore Orioles at Tropicana Field.
Kennedy is looking for his first win since May 13, and has been awful since returning from a left shoulder injury, prompting Piniella to consider placing him in the bullpen.
“I had a good talk with Joe,” Piniella said last week. “I asked him if he wanted to stay in the rotation or go to the bullpen. He gave me an emphatic answer, that he wanted to stay in the rotation. So I said, ‘Son, turn your season around. You’ve got seven weeks to do it.”’
Kennedy, Tampa Bay’s opening day starter, has struggled since returning from the disabled list July 9. In his last six starts, he is 0-4 and has allowed 28 runs over 28 2-3 innings.
“I can pitch,” Kennedy said. “I’m just not getting the results now. It’s just a matter of time.”
The Devil Rays are in danger of losing three straight for the first time since the All-Star break.
On Sunday, Aubrey Huff drove in three runs but the Devil Rays couldn’t erase a first-inning five-run deficit in a 7-3 defeat to the Kansas City Royals. The loss left Tampa Bay at 4-3 on its 10-game homestand.
The Orioles have won four of five, including three of four from the Boston Red Sox over the weekend.
After sweeping a doubleheader Friday, the Orioles split the final two games of the series, including Sunday’s 5-3 win.
STANDINGS: Orioles - 4th place, 13 1/2 GB, AL East. Devil Rays - 5th place, 25 1/2 GB, AL East.
ORIOLES PROBABLE STARTER: Pat Hentgen (4-6, 4.68 ERA). The right-hander had his three-game winning streak snapped with a 7-3 loss to the Minnesota Twins on Wednesday. In eight innings, Hentgen allowed seven hits and five runs, suffering his first loss since June 28. In seven career games against Tampa Bay—including six starts—Hentgen is 3-1 with a 2.17 ERA. Hentgen had one of his best starts of the season against the Devil Rays, a 2-0 win on May 17. In seven innings, Hentgen allowed just two hits while walking four.
DEVIL RAYS PROBABLE STARTER: Kennedy (3-9, 6.47 ERA). In his last start, a 7-3 loss to the Toronto Blue Jays on Wednesday, Kennedy allowed five runs— four earned—and seven hits in 5 2-3 innings. In five career starts against Baltimore, Kennedy is 1-1 with a 5.23 ERA.
OFFENSIVE LEADERS: Orioles - Melvin Mora, .325 avg.; Tony Batista, 20 HRs; Jay Gibbons, 81 RBIs; Jeff Conine, 69 runs; Brian Roberts, 18 SBs. Devil Rays - Huff, 302 avg., 19 HRs and 60 RBIs; Rocco Baldelli, 64 runs; Carl Crawford, 34 SBs.
SEASON SERIES: Devil Rays, 7-6.
STREAKS AND NOTES: Orioles - OF Conine missed Sunday’s game with soreness in his right elbow. He was scheduled to return to Baltimore after the game to be examined by the team doctor. … 1B Gibbons is 0-for-9 career against LHP Kennedy. … DH Cust has seven RBIs in his last four games. Devil Rays - The Devil Rays are 13-11 since the All-Star break. … Tampa Bay has scored fewer than four runs in each of its last five games. … 3B Damian Rolls is 2-for-14 in his last four games.
ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Orioles - 26-32 on the road; Devil Rays - 26-34 at home.
INJURIES: Orioles - OF Conine (elbow), day-to-day; INF David Segui (wrist), 15-day DL; OF Mora (hand), 15-day DL; OF B.J. Surhoff (quadriceps), 15-day DL; RHP Kurt Ainsworth (shoulder), 15-day DL; LHP Omar Daal (shoulder), 15-day DL; LHP Erik Bedard (elbow), 60-day DL; RHP Scott Erickson (shoulder), 60-day DL; RHP Willis Roberts (knee), 60-day DL; 2B Jerry Hairston Jr. (foot), 60-day DL; OF Albert Belle (hip), 60-day DL; OF Marty Cordova (elbow), 60-day DL. Devil Rays - SS Rey Ordonez (knee), 15-day DL; INF Terry Shumpert (hamstring), 15-day DL; OF Ben Grieve (blood clot), 60-day DL; RHP Seth McClung (elbow), 60-day DL.