The Tampa Bay Rays’ run to the 2008 World Series included an outstanding May. The month wasn’t as kind to them this season.
The Rays look to start putting a mediocre May behind them when they host the Kansas City Royals, a club they’ve dominated at home over the past five years, in the opener of a three-game set Tuesday night.
The Rays (25-28) went 19-10 last May after closing April on a 7-1 run - a sustained surge that helped them to a franchise-best 97-65 record and their first AL pennant. Tampa Bay was unable to duplicate that May success this year, finishing the month 16-14 after Sunday’s 3-2 loss to Minnesota.
Tampa Bay has dropped six of eight since a 7-2 stretch from May 15-23.
“We’re battling through some tough moments,” manager Joe Maddon told the Rays’ official Web site. “But I love the way we’re going about our business here at home.”
Tampa Bay has won seven of 10 at Tropicana Field, where it’s 16-5 against Kansas City since the start of the 2004 season.
“He’s always been a good practicer, but he’s just taking it to another level right now and I’m really enjoying watching him,” Maddon said.
Longoria batted .419 (13 for 31) with a home run in seven games versus the Royals last season.
After James Shields(notes), David Price(notes) and Matt Garza(notes) delivered solid starts in the three-game set against the Twins, Andy Sonnanstine(notes) (3-5, 7.66 ERA) looks to continue improving the starters’ ERA of 5.00.
In his last outing Wednesday, Sonnanstine yielded a season-high eight runs in a 12-7 loss at Cleveland.
The right-hander is 2-0 with a 4.96 ERA in three home starts this season. He’s 1-1 with a 3.48 ERA in three career starts against Kansas City.
The Royals (23-27) look to snap a four-game slide as they open a nine-game trip. Kansas City won six of its first seven in May, but fell from first in the AL Central to fourth as it closed the month with a 7-4 loss to the Chicago White Sox on Sunday.
Kyle Davies(notes) (2-4, 5.09) tries to get himself and the Royals back on track after losing his last three starts. In Wednesday’s 8-3 defeat to Detroit, he allowed season highs of eight runs and 10 hits in 5 2-3 innings.
The right-hander defeated the Rays on July 27 in his only career outing against them, pitching five innings of one-run ball in a 6-1 home victory. He faced Sonnanstine, who gave up five runs and eight hits in 6 2-3 innings to suffer the loss.
Davies’ 2.16 road ERA is among the best in the AL.
Soria, 7 for 7 in save opportunities this season and owner of a 2.08 ERA, rejoins a bullpen that sorely needs him. Kansas City relievers went 0-2 with an 11.25 ERA in the series against the White Sox.
Rays center fielder B.J. Upton(notes) is expected to be back in the starting lineup after coming off the bench Sunday. He’s hitting .289 (13 for 45) in his last 11 games after his average dipped to .177 on May 20.