The Devil Rays look to win three straight road games for the first time in almost two years, while trying for a fifth consecutive victory over the Rangers on Friday in a matchup of two last-place teams.
Tampa Bay (44-70) - last in the AL East and 25 games behind first-place Boston - beat Detroit 8-1 on Thursday to split a four-game road set with the Tigers.
At 18-37, the Devil Rays have the worst road record in the majors and haven’t won three in a row away from Tropicana Field since Sept. 25-28, 2005. Tampa Bay had lost eight straight on the road before a 7-1 victory over the Tigers on Wednesday.
The Devil Rays are 4-2 against the Rangers this season - their best record against any AL opponent. Tampa Bay, though, did drop two of three in Arlington, Texas from April 9-11.
On Thursday, Carl Crawford went 3-for-4 at Detroit with a two-run homer to raise his average to .433 (39-for-90) since the All-Star break. The left fielder is batting .600 (24-for-40) with four homers and eight RBIs during his 10-game hitting streak, but is just 1-for-11 against Brandon McCarthy, who will start the series opener for Texas.
“Everything he hits right now - breaking balls, fastballs - it doesn’t matter,” Devil Rays manager Joe Maddon said of Crawford. “He’s locked in right now.”
McCarthy (5-8, 5.04 ERA) allowed two runs over six innings Sunday for his second straight quality start, but suffered a hard-luck 4-1 loss at Toronto.
“At the beginning of the year, it was a crap shoot,” McCarthy, who has yielded three earned runs or fewer in six straight starts, told the Rangers’ official Web site. “Now, I’m miles ahead and back to where I want to be.”
The right-hander is 1-2 with a 6.75 ERA in five games - four starts - versus the Devil Rays. He is 1-0 with a 3.75 ERA in two starts against them this season.
Rookie Andy Sonnanstine (1-7, 6.12) will try for his first win in two months when he takes the mound for Tampa Bay on Friday. He allowed seven runs and eight hits in a career-low 3 2-3 innings during Sunday’s 11-3 loss to Baltimore.
“All the starts that I’ve seen, I’ve felt that he’s given us a chance to win the game, except for (Sunday),” Maddon told the Devil Rays’ official Web site. “It was a mulligan kind of day. I’d like to just toss that one out.”
The right-hander, who is 0-7 in 10 starts since winning 9-4 at Florida on June 10, has never faced Texas.
Texas (49-65) - 17 1/2 games behind the Los Angeles Angels for the AL West lead - lost 6-3 to Oakland on Wednesday for its sixth defeat in seven contests.