Tampa Bay Rays at Texas Rangers
- Tampa Bay won five of the nine meetings between these teams last season, outscoring the Rangers 39-29 in those contests. The Rays have just six wins in their last 18 road games against Texas.
- The Rangers own the third-best slugging percentage in the majors so far this season (.480).
- Jeremy Hellickson, who is celebrating his 26th birthday today, is 0-3 with a 1.90 ERA in his last four road starts and is winless (0-1) in two career starts against Texas.
- Alexi Ogando struck out a career-high 10 batters in his first start of the season last Wednesday against Houston. Ogando is 0-1 with a 4.82 ERA in eight career games (one start) against the Rays.
- Evan Longoria is hitting .353 (12-for-34) with five homers and 13 RBI in his last eight road games against the Rangers (including postseason).
- Fernando Rodney has already allowed three earned runs in 1.2 innings this season after allowing a total of five earned runs in 74.2 innings of work all of last season.
- Mariners give Cano 10-year, $240M deal
- Beltran, Yanks agree on $45M for 3 years
- Napoli, Red Sox agree to 2 years, $32M
- Granderson, Mets agree to $60M, 4 years
- RHP Kuroda returning to Yankees
By JORDAN GARRETSON
(AP) -- Tuesday night's meeting between the Texas Rangers and Tampa Bay Rays in Arlington may have an air of controversy hanging over it after the way the series opener ended.
Texas will look for its sixth win in seven games while Tampa Bay hopes to shake off a bad call and avoid a third straight defeat.
The Rangers claimed a 5-4 victory Monday on Joe Nathan's 300th save, but the last out came with plenty of dissent. On a 3-2 count, Ben Zobrist headed to first base after a pitch from Nathan that appeared to be well outside the strike zone but ended up getting called a third strike to end the game.
Zobrist was in disbelief, then Rays manager Joe Maddon gave home plate umpire Marty Foster and the rest of the crew his thoughts on the call. He argued with them well after the game closed - with the potential tying run on base for Tampa Bay.
Even Foster expressed regret.
"Had I had a chance to do it again, I wouldn't call that pitch a strike," Foster said.
Maddon likely won't face disciplinary action, according to crew chief Tim Welke, though he had showed no restraint in vocalizing his disagreement with the call.
"It just can't happen in a Major League Baseball game," Maddon said, reiterating the sentiment of a tweet he also sent following the game.
Meanwhile, Texas (5-2) will look to carry its recent home-run onslaught into Tuesday. After the Rangers connected on three homers in each of their previous two games against the Angels, A.J. Pierzynski and Mitch Moreland each provided one Monday.
Pierzynski is 8 for 15 in his last four games and became the seventh player to homer in the first seven games for Texas, which had only home run through its first three contests.
With previous success against Rays starter Roberto Hernandez - formerly known as Fausto Carmona - the Rangers will try to tee off against him once more. Nelson Cruz is 5 for 16 against Hernandez with three home runs, while David Murphy is 7 for 14 and Elvis Andrus 5 for 14.
Hernandez has lost his last five decisions versus the Rangers and owns a 2-8 record in 12 career starts against them with a 5.37 ERA. He yielded four runs over 6 2-3 innings in a 6-3 loss to Baltimore on Thursday.
Though Tampa Bay's bid for a road win Monday ended with Zobrist at the dish, things have mostly gone well for him this season. Zobrist, whose career-high batting average was .297 in 2009, is 10 for 25 (.400) with seven RBIs for the Rays (3-4).
Zobrist and the rest of the order will look to ruin Rangers starter Nick Tepesch's big-league debut. Tepesch won the fifth spot in Texas' rotation out of spring training, but the team elected to skip his first start due to an off day Thursday.
However, Tepesch did throw on his normal rest that day for Triple-A Round Rock, surrendering five hits and an unearned run over five innings. He was 0-1 with a 6.50 ERA in 18 innings this spring.
"Nick has impressed," general manager Jon Daniels told the club's official website. "We knew he was a strike thrower and had a four-pitch mix, but we were really impressed with the way he handled situations and the way he handled adversity. He earned it."
Evan Longoria is hitting .375 with five home runs in his last 10 games against the Rangers, including a 3-for-3 performance Monday.
Updated April 9, 2013