Series Preview: Devil Rays/Rangers

C.J. Wilson has all the makings of a great closer

Owners of the worst record in baseball, the Tampa Bay Devil Rays come calling this weekend for a three game series with the Rangers. Lone Star Dugout takes a look at this weekend's festivities in Arlington.

Devil Rays (44-70) at Rangers (49-65)


Friday, 7:35 PM: Andy Sonnanstine (1-7, 6.12) vs. Brandon McCarthy (5-8, 5.04)

Brandon McCarthy definitely wasn't armed with his best stuff last weekend in Toronto, but he made some tough pitches when he needed to and wiggled his way out of several tight spots. Although he was saddled with the loss, McCarthy did earn his second consecutive quality start, and with one more on Friday evening the righty can take the team lead in that category with ten. McCarthy has a career record of 1-2, 6.75 against the Rays, but he's been able to hold the always dangerous Carl Crawford to just one hit in 11 at-bats.

24-year old Any Sonnanstine picked up his first major league victory in his second career start back on June 10th. Although he gave up seven hits, the Ohio native was able to hold the visiting Florida Marlins to just two runs over seven innings of work. But since that start, Sonnanstine owns an ugly 6.34 ERA, a .304 opponents batting average and the Devil Rays have lost nine of his 10 starts. Last week's start against the Orioles was arguably the worst of his 12 appearances, wasting an early lead and exiting the game after allowing six runs in the fourth inning.

Saturday, 7:35 PM: Edwin Jackson (2-11, 6.35) vs. John Rheinecker (1-0, 7.40)
Since holding the Seattle Mariners to just one unearned run on July 24th, Rheinecker has allowed 13 earned runs in just 9 1/3 innings of ball. Things got off to a horrendous start for him against Oakland on Monday when the southpaw allowed a six runs – four of them via a grand slam – before the Rangers had a chance to bat in the game. But to his credit, Rheinecker was able to fight through that ugly start and managed to pitch a decent game. His reward, thanks to a comeback by the Rangers offense that erased a seven run deficit, was a no-decision.

Despite what his record may tell you, Edwin Jackson's last start was a very commendable effort. After allowing just two runs over six innings against the Detroit Tigers earlier this week, Jackson was in line to pick up his third win of the season until the Tampa Bay bullpen allowed four runs in the seventh inning in what ended up being a 6-4 loss. His offspeed pitches impressed manager Joe Maddon and proved vital in helping him get out of jams. Lifetime against the Rangers, Jackson is 0-1 with a 6.39 ERA in two career starts.

Sunday, 7:35 PM: Jason Hammel (1-1, 6.09) vs. Kason Gabbard (5-1, 3.93)
Kason Gabbard picked up his first victory as a Ranger in front of the home fans last Tuesday night. It was another quality start for a Rangers pitcher, and for the lefty, it was his fourth out of his nine starts in 2007. Interestingly enough, the win improved Gabbard's record to 6-0 when he's pitching in front of a home crowd (Fenway or Arlington). Sunday night will mark his first career appearance against the Devil Rays.

Tampa Bay pitcher Jason Hammel's one victory this season came in relief against the Diamondbacks back on June 18th. He's yet to win a game since joining the rotation on July 21st, and his 6.06 ERA is only slightly better than it was as a reliever. He allowed five runs and 10 hits over four innings of his last start in Detroit, but also earned a no-decision thanks to a late rally. The Devil Rays have kept a close eye on Hammel as he works to build up a pitch count since becoming a starter, and their hopes are to have him throw between 90-100 pitches in what will be his first career appearance against the Texas Rangers.

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