Joe Kennedy hasn’t won in more than three months. That hasn’t stopped Tampa Bay manager Lou Piniella from sticking with his opening-day starter.
Kennedy bids for his first win in 11 appearances when the Devil Rays continue a four-game series with the Cleveland Indians at Jacobs Field.
Kennedy, who missed more than a month of action during the winless streak with left-shoulder inflammation, is 0-6 over his last 10 outings, including Tampa Bay’s 4-3 win over Baltimore on Monday.
The left-hander yielded three runs and five hits over seven solid innings, but did not receive a decision, remaining winless since a 7-5 victory at Toronto on May 13.
Kennedy had struggled mightily since returning from the DL on July 9, going 0-4 with a 7.85 ERA before impressing Piniella with Monday’s outing.
“I like what I saw,” Piniella said. “He pitched well. I told him he made a lot of good pitches. He changed speeds as well as I’ve seen him change speeds this year.”
The Devil Rays snapped the Indians’ four-game winning streak with Saturday’s 5-3 victory. Jared Sanberg belted a two-run homer and Aubrey Huff also drove in a pair of runs for Tampa Bay, which has won four of five. The Devil Rays have the best record in the AL East since July 20, going 16-10.
Alex Escobar, who missed all of last season due to injury, homered for the first time in nearly two years for Cleveland, which lost for just the third time in 12 games.
STANDINGS: Devil Rays - 5th place, 24 1/2 GB, AL East. Indians - 4th place, 11 1/2 GB, AL Central.
DEVIL RAYS PROBABLE STARTER: Kennedy (3-9, 6.29 ERA). Kennedy, who had five complete games last year, has just one this season when he beat major league-worst Detroit 2-0 on May 2. He did not receive a decision in his lone previous start against Cleveland, allowing a run and five hits over eight innings.
INDIANS PROBABLE STARTER: Jake Westbrook (5-7, 4.77 ERA). Westbrook has lost three of his last four decisions, including Monday’s 5-3 setback at Minnesota. The right-hander allowed five runs and eight hits over six innings, striking out three and walking one. Westbrook has yielded one run and six hits in eight career innings against the Devil Rays.
OFFENSIVE LEADERS: Devil Rays - Huff, .304 avg., 20 HRs and 68 RBIs; Rocco Baldelli, 68 runs; Carl Crawford, 37 SBs. Indians - Milton Bradley, .321 avg., 56 RBIs and 17 SBs.; Matt Lawton, 15 HRs; Casey Blake, 63 runs.
SEASON SERIES: Tied, 1-1.
STREAKS AND NOTES: Devil Rays - LHP Kennedy is 2-3 with a 5.83 ERA in nine road starts this season. … Tampa Bay has played in a major league-leading 70 games decided by two runs or fewer this season. They’re 35-35 in those contests. … The Devil Rays have used a club record-tying 13 starters this season. Indians - RHP Westbrook is 3-3 with a 5.33 ERA in 15 career appearances, including eight starts, at home this year. … OF Escobar, whose 24 homers led the International League before he was recalled on Friday from Triple-A Buffalo, is filling in for injured OF Bradley. His homer Saturday was his first since Oct. 5, 2001, when he was with the New York Mets. Escobar was acquired from New York in the deal that sent Roberto Alomar to the Mets prior to the 2002 season. … Cleveland is 1-1 on its six-game homestand.
ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Devil Rays - 20-38 on the road; Indians - 31-30 at home.
INJURIES: 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. Indians - C Victor Martinez (ankle), 15-day DL; SS Omar Vizquel (knee), 15-day DL; OF Bradley (back), 15-day DL; OF Lawton (finger), 15-day DL; OF Ellis Burks (elbow), 60-day DL; RHP Jason Bere (shoulder), 60-day DL; RHP Dave Elder (shoulder), 60-day DL; RHP Bob Wickman (elbow), 60-day DL; RHP Mark Wohlers (elbow), 60-day DL; INF Ricky Gutierrez (back), 60-day DL.