Tampa Bay manager Joe Maddon hoped the focus of his team’s interleague series with the Philadelphia Phillies would be more about the present than the past.
On Thursday night, the Rays might finally be able to put their postseason history with the Phillies behind them with a victory in the decisive finale of this three-game set at Tropicana Field.
It’s been eight months since Philadelphia beat Tampa Bay in five games to win its first World Series in 28 years. What happened in October has seemed to overshadow that neither team is currently playing like World Series contenders.
Though the Phillies (37-32) are first in the NL East, they’ve lost nine of 11 after falling 7-1 on Wednesday to Tampa Bay, which is fourth in the AL East.
“I’m really pretty much over it,” Maddon said of the World Series. “I know everybody wants to rehash it, and I apologize, but it’s about right now.”
One day after Philadelphia won 10-1 in the opener, Pat Burrell(notes) hit a two-run homer against his former team and Jason Bartlett(notes) had two RBIs while extending his hitting streak to 18 games for the Rays (38-35), who’ve won nine of their last 13.
Burrell has two homers after signing a $16 million, two-year contract with the AL champions after he wasn’t offered a new deal by Philadelphia.
“It’s fun because I know the team and everything like that. But more importantly for me, it’s just being able to contribute and help us win,” Burrell said.
It’s uncertain if the Rays will have third baseman Evan Longoria(notes) available after he left Wednesday’s game with slight soreness in his hamstring. Longoria’s hitting .309 with 16 homers and 61 RBIs in 69 games
The Phillies are expected to activate struggling closer Brad Lidge(notes) off the disabled list Thursday. Lidge, who’s 0-3 with a 7.27 ERA with 13 saves in 19 chances, has been sidelined since June 7 with a sprained right knee.
“I feel I can do three days in a row right now,” Lidge told the Phillies’ official Web site. “I can’t predict that it’s going to feel fine, but I think it will.”
In his most recent start, Sonnanstine allowed four runs and seven hits in six innings of a 5-3 loss to the New York Mets on Friday. While the right-hander is 1-7 with an 8.22 ERA in nine road starts, he’s 4-0 with a 4.15 ERA in five outings at Tropicana Field.
Philadelphia counters with rookie Antonio Bastardo(notes) (2-2, 5.21), who looks to avoid a third straight loss after giving up four runs and five hits in a career-high seven innings of a 7-2 loss to Baltimore on Friday.
The 23-year-old left-hander has allowed eight earned runs in eight innings over his last two starts after giving up three in 11 innings to win the first two of his career this month.