Series Preview: Rangers/Devil Rays

The Rangers will attempt to keep hope from becoming hopeless with a series against the Devil Rays beginning tonight in Orlando. John Vittas of Lone Star Dugout takes a look at the pitching matchups in this three game set.

Texas Rangers (15-23) at Tampa Bay Devil Rays (15-22)

Pitching Matchups

Tuesday, 6:10: Brandon McCarthy (3-4, 6.89) vs. James Shields (3-0, 3.10)
Live from the Wonderful World of Disney, Brandon McCarthy gets the call tonight due to Robinson Tejeda being pushed back a start. After a forgettable April in which he went 1-4 and had an earned run average of almost 10.00, over the past three starts McCarthy has pitched more like the guy the Rangers hoped they were getting from the Chicago White Sox. In the last 11 1/3 innings of work for the tall right-hander, the only two runs he's allowed have both come via solo homeruns. He's also displayed the ability to work out of jams during his more recent outings, as opposed to getting burned by them last month. He is 1-2 with a 7.71 ERA in four games against the Devil Rays. James Shields, on the other hand, has been impressive all season long for the Rays and he has plenty of people salivating. He admits he's not a strikeout pitcher, but can rack up plenty of K‘s, and did so on April 22nd when he struck out 12 Cleveland Indians over eight innings of work. His best outing of the season came last Wednesday against the Orioles when he went the distance allowing just 3 hits and no runs, but still was tagged with the loss. His success tonight will depend on how much command he has in the early going on a usually superb fastball, curve and changeup.

Wednesday, 6:10: Vicente Padilla (1-5, 4.78) vs. Casey Fossum (2-3, 4.73)
One of the things Padilla must do in order to get out of the red in the won/loss column is improve on a shaky 20/24 K/BB ratio. The homerun ball has also not been kind to him, with eight long balls given up in 51 innings of work. But in order for his record to really improve, the defense behind him has to get better as well. In his outing last Friday with the visiting Angels up 2-0 and the bases loaded in the fifth, an easy double-play ball hit to Ian Kinsler went through the wickets. Disastrous miscues in the field like that have not been uncommon during a typical Vicente Padilla start. Fossum has a 3-1 record against the Rangers, but it comes with an earned run average of 5.05. He was pounded for eight runs in 5 2/3 last week against the Orioles, but has somehow managed to work in three relatively strong outings amongst the seven really bad ones.

Thursday, 6:10: Kameron Loe (1-3, 5.89) vs. Scott Kazmir (2-2, 3.96)
A tell-tale sign of the frustrating season it's been thus far for the Texas Rangers was put on display by Loe , who went on a tear in the dugout after allowing five runs in the first two innings of his last start against the Angels. Interesting enough, his outburst seemed to work and he went on to pitch five shutout innings after that. But shoddy defensive play behind him once again wrecked havoc and as a result, another starter saw their record fall and earned run average rise. He's 0-0 with a 4.50 ERA in two relief appearances against Tampa Bay earlier this season, and 1-0 with a 5.17 ERA in seven career appearances overall. Kazmir showed a ton of grit in his last outing when he struggled to make good pitches and was touched up for 9 hits over 6 1/3 innings, but almost managed to scrape out a victory. He's allowed four or more runs in just three starts this season and has a earned run average of 2.00 in three career starts against the Rangers.

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