The Tampa Bay Rays have three chances to set a franchise record for victories in April.
Taking their first crack at accomplishing that feat, the Rays try for a fourth consecutive victory to sweep a brief two-game home series with the Oakland Athletics on Wednesday.
Off to the best start in its 13-year history, Tampa Bay (15-5) beat Oakland 8-6 on Tuesday to match a club record for wins in April that was set during its surprise run to the World Series in 2008.
Owners of the majors’ best record, the Rays have won 12 of 14 and continue to produce at the plate. Pat Burrell(notes) hit a three-run homer while Jason Bartlett(notes) and John Jaso(notes) each had three hits Tuesday.
The Rays, who’ve hit .311 and scored 50 runs during a stretch where they’ve won five of six, lead the AL with 121 runs and a .323 batting average with runners in scoring position.
“There’s nobody just killing it in regard to the typical batting average barometer,” Rays manager Joe Maddon said. “But we’ve been doing a nice job in situations, and when it matters.”
Bartlett is 7 for 16 with six RBIs in his last four games, while Burrell has driven in seven of his 12 runs in the last four contests.
Burrell is 5 for 15 with four doubles in his last four games against Oakland (12-9), which remains the surprise leader in the AL West despite losing two of three.
Braden is 3-1 with a 3.86 ERA in five starts against the Rays, including 2-0 with a 3.00 ERA in three at Tropicana Field. He’ll try for a fourth straight win overall after battling an illness to allow two runs in six innings of a 4-2 win over the New York Yankees on Thursday.
Shields allowed two runs in a season-high seven innings of a 10-2 victory at Chicago on Thursday.
The right-hander is 3-1 with a 3.88 ERA in eight career starts against Oakland, but hasn’t factored in the decision of his last three versus the A’s.