Preview Tampa Bay at Texas
(SportsNetwork.com) - For Jeremy Hellickson, kryptonite comes in a Texas uniform.
The Tampa Bay starter will make a sixth career attempt at a first defeat of the Rangers on Tuesday night at Globe Life Park, where the Rays visit for game two of a four-game series.
Hellickson has beaten every American League opponent in his brief career except the Rangers, against whom he's 0-4 with a 5.32 earned run average in five starts -- including one in the playoffs. In fact, his ERA is higher against Texas than all but one other AL team.
It's the fifth start since a return from early-season elbow surgery for Hellickson, who'd not gone past five innings in the first three outings before throwing seven strong innings on Wednesday against Oakland -- allowing a run on two hits in a 7-3 win.
"That looked like the Rookie of the Year Hellickson," manager Joe Maddon said. "My thought is now that he's done it once he can really take off."
It was the first start in a rotation for Rays starters that yielded a 4-1 record and a sub-1.00 ERA. Newcomer Drew Smyly prolonged the stretch on Monday by tossing 7 2/3 scoreless innings.
The Rangers managed just two singles and a double in the game.
Texas replies with right-hander Nick Tepesch, who made his big-league debut against the Rays in April 2013 and went 7 1/3 innings for a 6-1 win.
He'd more recently gone four starts without a win before a scoreless 5 2/3- inning stint yielded a 3-1 defeat of the Chicago White Sox on Wednesday. He was removed after throwing 79 pitches because it was his first start since missing a turn with a sore knee.
"He hadn't pitched in 10 days, so I didn't know what to expect," manager Ron Washington said.
On Monday, the Rays won, 7-0, as Smyly (7-10) gave up three hits while striking out nine and walking three in his second start for the Rays since coming over from Detroit in the trade deadline deal that sent David Price to the Tigers.
He set career highs in innings pitched and pitches (116). Smyly threw 107 pitches in just 5 1/3 innings of a 3-0 loss last Tuesday against Oakland.
Matt Joyce knocked in two runs for the Rays, who have won four of five.
Texas starter Colby Lewis (8-9) allowed five runs -- two earned -- on five hits with four walks over five innings.