The Arizona Diamondbacks and Tampa Bay Devil Rays both entered baseball as expansion teams in 1998. Although the franchises have gone in completely different directions, Arizona is surprisingly the only club that has never beaten Tampa Bay.
The Diamondbacks look for their first win in seven tries against the lowly Devil Rays when the teams begin a three-game series Monday night at Chase Field.
Arizona has had a better record than Tampa Bay in every year but 2004. The Diamondbacks had a 100-win campaign in their second season when they won the first of three NL West titles in four years, and also captured the 2001 World Series.
Tampa Bay, meanwhile, had its best season in 2004 when it went 70-91. That was the only year the Devil Rays failed to finish in last place in the AL East.
Arizona (40-30) is a contender again this year while Tampa Bay (30-37) appears headed for another losing season. The Diamondbacks, however, are 0-6 against the Devil Rays after getting swept at Tropicana Field last June 20-22.
“Hopefully, they catch us at the wrong time this year,” Arizona manager Bob Melvin told the team’s official Web site. “They’ve had their challenges due to payroll, due to attendance, all those things. They have a lot of good young players there right now, a lot of good young players.”
This series represents an excellent chance for Arizona to finally break through as it begins a 10-game homestand. After losing five of their first six interleague games, the Diamondbacks enjoyed plenty of success this weekend in sweeping a three-game series at Baltimore.
Arizona scored a total of four runs while getting swept by the New York Yankees earlier in the week before taking advantage of the Orioles for 21 runs.
Diamondbacks starter Livan Hernandez (5-4, 4.20 ERA) looks to remain perfect at home this season. The veteran is 6-0 with a 2.32 ERA in his last nine starts at Chase Field, including a 3-0 mark in six outings this year.
Hernandez was tagged for seven runs and nine hits over four innings on Wednesday in a 7-2 loss to the Yankees. He issued five walks after only walking that many over his previous 30 innings.
The right-hander is 2-1 with a 5.18 ERA in five career starts against the Devil Rays.
Gomes went 6-for-11 in the series as he continues to replace slumping Elijah Dukes in the lineup.
“Jonny wants to play every day,” manager Joe Maddon said. “I believe he’s the kind of player and the kind of guy we’re looking for. He brings a lot of energy.”
Edwin Jackson (0-8, 8.20) gets another start for Tampa Bay despite another dismal performance his last time out. He retired just one of the eight batters he faced and gave up five runs before being pulled in a 9-0 loss to San Diego on Wednesday.
The right-hander, who is out of options, hasn’t won since Sept. 26, 2005, while with the Los Angeles Dodgers. He’s 1-1 with a 2.40 ERA against Arizona in three appearances, including two starts.