With a slim AL East lead and seven games to play, the Tampa Bay Rays can use all the wins they can get.
Davis seeks his eighth straight win Monday when the Rays open a three-game home series against the last-place Baltimore Orioles.
The Rays (93-62) remain in the driver’s seat for their second division title in three years, but saw their lead trimmed to one-half game Sunday. They lost 6-2 to Seattle in the afternoon, snapping a four-game winning streak. Later Sunday night, the second-place Yankees defeated Boston 4-3, gaining ground on Tampa Bay but also meaning the Rays have clinched at least a tie for a playoff spot.
Manager Joe Maddon did not seem concerned about Sunday’s loss.
“I think the wonderful thing about our group is we have a very short memory and it has nothing to do with lack of intellect,” Maddon said. “I think it’s just the fact that we’re able to process the day properly and move on to the next day.”
Having Davis (12-9, 4.13 ERA) on the mound could help Tampa Bay move past the loss. The right-hander is 7-0 with a 3.19 ERA in his last 11 starts, and 3-0 with a 1.86 in four career starts against Baltimore, including his only shutout Sept. 17, 2009 - also his first career win.
July’s AL rookie of the month threw 2 1-3 hitless innings at Yankee Stadium on Wednesday, but a two-hour rain delay cut his outing short.
The Rays may not have the services of third baseman Evan Longoria(notes), who has missed the last three games with a left quadriceps strain and was scheduled to be re-evaluated Monday. Maddon said the three-time All-Star’s status is unknown.
Matusz is 4-0 with a 1.91 ERA over his last six starts, but has been knocked around by Tampa Bay over his career, posting a 6.23 ERA over four starts The left-hander surrendered nine hits and five runs in a 7-3 loss Aug. 14 at Tropicana Field.
Despite suffering a left triceps contusion in his previous outing, Matusz was able to start Monday’s game against Boston. He limited the Red Sox to one run and three hits over five innings, but did not receive a decision in the Orioles’ 4-2 win.
Baltimore has dropped four straight on its current nine-game road trip, including a 5-2 loss to Toronto on Sunday.
The Rays own a 10-5 edge in the season series with Baltimore.