The Devil Rays are 14-5 since the All-Star break and own their longest winning streak since a 12-game run in June 2004.
“I’m pleasantly surprised,” said manager Lou Piniella, who challenged his players to be more competitive in a team meeting after the All-Star break. “We’ve turned it on. We’ve been aggressive. These kids are having fun playing and there is a lot of intensity. It’s rewarding for me to watch.”
The Devil Rays had just eight road victories at the break. Since coming back, they have six in nine games, including Wednesday’s 8-5 victory.
“Two wins here is a nice way to start a long road trip,” Piniella said.
The Devil Rays have swept the Rangers just once before in franchise history, taking three straight from Aug. 30-Sept. 1, 2002.
Casey Fossum, who’s won three of his last four starts, will start for Tampa Bay on Thursday. The veteran left-hander has posted a 1.68 ERA in his wins during that stretch.
In Friday’s 6-3 victory over Kansas City, Fossum took a shutout into the eighth inning and ended up allowing two runs and six hits over 7 1-3.
“I’m going out there and putting the ball exactly where I want it,” Fossum said. “I’m not giving in to hitters in certain fastball counts. I’m just going right after the hitters.”
On Wednesday, Jorge Cantu drove in the tiebreaking run for the Devil Rays with an eighth-inning single.
The Rangers have lost a season-high seven straight at home. Texas hasn’t lost this many at home since 1992, and is just two defeats shy of the club record, set in 1990 when the team played at Arlington Stadium.
“Tampa Bay is playing really good baseball, but we’re not playing well,” Rangers shortstop Michael Young said. “We’re running into some hot teams, but we can’t worry how well other teams are playing. We have to do our own thing.”