Sweeping one of the AL’s best clubs was a great way for the Tampa Bay Rays to cap off a homestand. Facing Oakland Athletics ace Trevor Cahill(notes) could make it tough for the Rays to open their West Coast trip on a positive note.
Tampa Bay tries to extend its winning streak to six Thursday night when it opens a four-game set with an A’s club that’s won its last six home series.
Since dropping a season-high five straight, the Rays (74-46) have won seven of nine, including three from AL West-leading Texas in a series that ended with Wednesday’s 8-6 victory.
“If we want to keep contending, we have to win at home,” Longoria said. “We’ll try to roll into Oakland and L.A. (to face the Angels) and do the same thing.”
While the All-Star third baseman feels more comfortable at the plate since Carlos Pena returned from the disabled list three games ago, Longoria hasn’t looked good against Oakland (59-60) this season, batting .176. He went 0 for 8 as Tampa Bay dropped two of three in the Bay Area from May 7-9.
Longoria is 1 for 2 with a double versus Cahill (12-5, 2.50 ERA), who will look to move past Nolan Ryan (California Angels, 1972-73) with a modern major league record 21st consecutive start of five innings or more yielding six hits or fewer.
Looking to win his fourth consecutive outing, Cahill went seven innings in Saturday’s 2-0 loss at Minnesota, surrendering one run and six hits.
“You could really see the power of his sinker up close,” manager Bob Geren said of Cahill, who is 3-1 with a 0.28 ERA in his last four outings. “It’s something special.”
The Rays counter with converted reliever Andy Sonnanstine(notes) (3-1, 4.10), who makes his third straight start with Jeff Niemann(notes) and Wade Davis(notes) on the disabled list with shoulder injuries. The right-hander went five innings in Saturday’s 7-3 win over Baltimore, allowing three runs and three hits to earn his first victory as a starter since June 25, 2009.
Sonnanstine has a 3.00 ERA in two relief appearances versus Oakland this season and is 2-3 with a 6.75 ERA in five career starts against the A’s.
He’ll face an Oakland club trying to win three straight for the first time since a season-high five-game run July 10-18.
After dropping Monday’s opener, the A’s won two straight against Toronto for their sixth straight series win at home.
The A’s have won four of five at home against the Rays, who are a major league-best 35-22 on the road.
Rays left fielder Carl Crawford(notes) is batting .342 with two homers and eight RBIs during a nine-game hitting streak, but is 2 for 20 against Oakland in 2010. He has an RBI double in his only career matchup with Cahill.