That no longer appears to be the case.
The surging Rays and White Sox look to continue their respective playoff pushes when they open a four-game series Monday night at U.S. Cellular Field.
After capturing its first AL East title last season, Tampa Bay (51-41) eliminated Chicago in four games of the division series en route to winning the pennant. While Tampa Bay was perhaps baseball’s biggest surprise in 2008, duplicating that success in 2009 initially seemed to be a remote possibility.
The Rays, who dropped three of four at home to the White Sox (47-44) from April 16-19, were seven games out of first place on June 23. They’ve managed to get back into the mix by winning 14 of 20 to move 4 1/2 games behind East-leading Boston and within 3 1/2 games of the New York Yankees for the wild card.
“In April we didn’t have our mental act together,” Rays manager Joe Maddon said following Sunday’s 4-3 win over Kansas City to cap a three-game sweep. “Coming off the World Series, that first month is a very dangerous month. You really have to avoid the pitfalls and we fell a little bit, but we’ve rebounded nicely.”
The White Sox, meanwhile, have made an even bigger jump in the standings. On June 26, the defending AL Central champs were six games out of first place, but have won 12 of 18 to pull within 1 1/2 games of division-leading Detroit.
Jermaine Dye(notes) has been leading the charge, batting .395 (32 for 87) with six home runs and 19 RBIs in his last 22 games. He was hitless, though, in three at-bats in Sunday’s 11-2 loss to Baltimore.
“For a month and half we’ve been playing pretty good baseball. Today is going to happen. We couldn’t do anything (right) on the field,” White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen said. “That’s just part of the game, you can’t expect the team to max out every day.”
Floyd yielded 10 earned runs in 13 innings in his final two starts before the All-Star break after allowing just nine in 58 1-3 innings over his previous eight outings. On July 11, the right-hander gave up five runs and eight hits in 7 2-3 innings of an 8-7 win over Minnesota.
Floyd hopes to bounce back at home, where he’s 3-0 with a 1.73 ERA in his last six starts. The White Sox have won each time.
In his only career start against the Rays on April 19, Floyd allowed two runs and six hits over seven innings of a 12-2 win.
The rookie gave up one run and six hits and struck out seven in a 3-2 win over Toronto on July 9. That came five days after the left-hander was tagged for six runs and five walks in a season-low 1 1-3 innings of a 12-4 loss to Texas.
Price now needs to get comfortable pitching on the road, where he’s 0-2 with a 7.27 ERA in four starts this year.
This will be his first career start against the White Sox.