The Tampa Bay Rays have the majors’ best road record. Success when visiting Arlington, however, continues to elude them.
The Rays try to avoid getting swept on the road for the first time this season Sunday when they face the surging Texas Rangers.
After winning eight of its first nine series away from Tropicana Field, Tampa Bay (36-20) faces its first road sweep since Sept. 12-13 versus Boston.
“We did not play well today,” manager Joe Maddon said following Saturday’s 6-1 loss. “It was not one of our better games. But if we win tomorrow, it’ll be a 3-3 road trip and I’ll be very happy with that.”
Tampa Bay is 21-8 away from home - no other team has more than 16 road wins. The Rays had won eight of 10 on the road before losing the last two games at the Ballpark in Arlington, where they went 1-5 last year. They are 10-25 there since the start of the 2003 season.
Garza (5-4, 3.08 ERA) has received two runs of support over his last three starts after getting the lowest run support in the AL last season (3.68).
The Rays didn’t score until after Garza departed in the seventh inning of a 3-2 loss to Toronto on Monday.
“It’s a lot of what you saw last year where we didn’t score enough runs for him and, all of a sudden, his record isn’t what people would expect of him,” Maddon told the Rays’ official website. “He got off to a great start, wins-wise. We just haven’t scored him enough runs lately.”
The right-hander, though, surrendered a season-high 10 hits Monday and has been tagged for four homers in his last two starts. He gave up five home runs in his first nine outings.
Avoiding more such trouble could be a challenge the way the AL West-leading Rangers (30-25) have been hitting the ball. After tagging Rays pitching for 13 hits in Friday’s 9-6 victory, Texas had 10 on Saturday. The Rangers are batting .339 and scoring 7.2 runs per game while winning four of five.
Josh Hamilton(notes) and Elvis Andrus(notes) have keyed the surge. Hamilton is batting .455 this month and will try to homer in three straight games for the first time since a four-game stretch May 31-June 3, 2008. He is 2 for 12 with four strikeouts lifetime versus Garza.
Andrus doubled, tripled and drove in two runs Saturday while extending his hitting streak to 11. He’s hit .364 in his last 10 home games.
The right-hander allowed four runs in the first two innings of his last outing, but he picked up the victory as the Rangers backed him with 19 hits in Tuesday’s 9-6 win over the Chicago White Sox.
“At least (Harden) kept us in the ballgame,” manager Ron Washington told the Rangers’ official website.
Harden is 3-1 with a 4.94 ERA in five starts versus the Rays but hasn’t faced them since 2005.