Delmon Young made sure the Tampa Devil Rays left Disney World with the longest current winning streak in the majors. Now the surging right fielder will try to help them beat one of the most successful teams in interleague play.
Young and the Devil Rays go for their fifth straight victory when they return to Tropicana Field to open a three-game series against the in-state rival Florida Marlins on Friday night.
The 21-year-old Young hit a walkoff homer in the 10th inning Thursday to give the Devils Rays an 8-6 win over the Texas Rangers and their first three-game sweep of the season. He went deep twice for his first multi-homer game and drove in five runs.
Young was an impressive 6-for-12 with eight RBIs during the sweep to boost his batting average 22 points to .244.
“I’ve just fixed my swing. It just feels better,” said Young, who has never played in an interleague game.
The Devil Rays are back home after hosting the Texas series at the minor league park at Disney’s Wide World of Sports complex in Kissimmee in an attempt to increase their fan base. The finale drew a crowd of 9,635 fans.
Tampa Bay (18-22) is seeking its first five-game winning streak since Aug. 16-21, 2005.
The Devil Rays went 11-7 against the NL last year, batting .292 and posting a 3.45 ERA. They are just 67-93 in interleague play since 1997, though, the third-worst mark in the majors.
Florida (18-23) is tied for the third-best winning percentage (.571) in interleague play during that stretch. Jeremy Hermida has fueled some of that recent success, batting .385 (20-for-52) with seven doubles and seven RBIs in interleague play during his career.
The right fielder missed the beginning of this season with a deep bone bruise on his right knee, but returned for Florida’s four-game series with Pittsburgh, going 6-for-12. The Marlins (18-23) tied their club record with five errors Thursday, falling 7-2 to split the series with the Pirates.
“We just kicked it around and you can’t do that,” Marlins manager Fredi Gonzalez said. “You keep putting people on base and something bad is going to happen.”
Florida will turn to a new face Friday when Byung-Hyun Kim (1-2, 10.50 ERA) makes his Marlins debut. The right-hander, known for his submarine delivery, was acquired from Colorado on Sunday for pitcher Jorge Julio.
He was activated off the disabled list Thursday after being bothered by a bruised right thumb and will replace Wes Obermueller in the Marlins’ rotation. Kim made three appearances for the Rockies, one of them a start, before being sent to the minors in mid-April.
The veteran pitcher, who has spent time as a reliever and a starter, was 1-1 with 2.96 ERA in five games, all starts, with Triple-A Colorado Springs.
“I feel he can help us there - he’ll give us a different look,” Gonzalez said. “He’s done well in that spot, as opposed to the bullpen thing.”
Kim is 1-0 with a 1.38 ERA in eight career games, including one start, versus the Devil Rays, holding them to an .095 batting average.
Tampa Bay will counter with Edwin Jackson (0-5, 6.82), who may be headed out of the rotation if he doesn’t improve.
The right-hander, in his second season with the Devil Rays, hasn’t recorded a victory since Sept. 26, 2005, while pitching for the Los Angeles Dodgers. He gave up four runs and six hits over six innings Saturday while striking out a career-high nine, but didn’t factor into a 5-4 defeat to Toronto.
Jackson is 0-1 with a 7.94 ERA in two career appearances versus the Marlins.
Florida holds a 30-19 advantage in the all-time series between these teams, but Tampa Bay took four of the six matchups last season.