Nothing like facing the worst team in the American League to help the Tampa Bay Devil Rays break out of their second-half slump.
The Devil Rays will try for a three-game sweep of the Kansas City Royals as they close out their series at Tropicana Field. Tampa Bay had dropped six straight before taking the first two games of the series, in which its outscored the Royals 16-3.
On Wednesday, Mark Hendrickson pitched a four-hitter and the Devil Rays hit three homers in a 10-1 victory in the middle game of the set. Jose Cruz Jr., Aubrey Huff and Tino Martinez homered for the Devil Rays, who had just 17 homers in their previous 24 games.
Huff hit a two-run homer during a three-run third that made it 4-0. He added an RBI single during a two-run sixth and has driven in 14 runs in the past 13 games.
“You get out to a nice lead early and everybody can relax a little bit,” Huff said
Mired in a six-game losing streak, the Royals have the worst record (35-64) in the American League and are 7-24 since June 24.
“It’s very tough to win a ballgame when you didn’t hit and you didn’t pitch,” Kansas City manager Tony Pena said.
Jimmy Gobble gave up eight runs and 10 hits in 4 2-3 innings. He beat Tampa Bay in his first two major league starts last August, allowing one earned run over 12 1-3 innings.
“It’s tough right now,” first baseman Ken Harvey said. “Guys are trying. It doesn’t seem like we can get anything started.”
The Royals’ longest skid this season was eight games from June 30 to July 7.