Texas Rangers at Tampa Bay Rays game preview

TV: FOX Sports Sun

TIME: Pregame coverage begins at 6:30 p.m.


ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — The Tampa Bay Rays haven’t had much to cheer for early in the 2018 season, but a promising day against a left-handed starter Monday could bring about more of the same on Tuesday.

“It was good to see guys break out of a little bit of a funk,” manager Kevin Cash said after the Rays got an 8-4 win against the Rangers and starter Martin Perez on Monday. “Hopefully it carries over tomorrow. Obviously, a feel-good win for everybody, given what’s taken place here the last week.”

The Rays (4-12) had lost four in a row to drop to an AL-worst 3-12, but bounced back with 13 hits and a strong day on the mound by starter Blake Snell.

Tampa Bay Rays on FOX Sports Sun

Can they do the same against a more familiar lefty Tuesday? Former Rays pitcher Matt Moore, traded to the Giants late in 2016, goes against his old team for the first time — he has pitched against the other 29 teams in the majors, so this completes this list.

Moore has struggled with his new team — he’s off to an 0-3 start with an 8.76 ERA, allowing 19 hits in just 12 1/3 innings pitched. He had a 3.88 ERA in his time with the Rays — 17-4 with a 3.29 as an All-Star in 2013 — but that jumped to 5.12 with the Giants, going 6-15 last season. He’s had a rough beginning to his Rangers career, averaging 85 pitches but lasting no longer than five innings in any of his starts.

The Rays, meanwhile, continue to audition rookie Yonny Chirinos for a full-time spot in the rotation. He’s opened his major league career with zero earned runs in his first 14 1/3 innings, including one outing in long relief and two starts to open “bullpen days.” He has struck out 12 batters while walking only two. This is his first appearance against the Rangers as well.

Texas, which came to Tropicana Field with a two-game winning streak, lost again to match the Rays’ AL-high 12 losses.

“These guys are going to continue to play,” manager Jeff Banister said. “They aren’t going to lay down for anything. As challenging as it is, it’s been rough for us to start losing a number of players and see (Jurickson Profar) go down tonight, but we are going to continue to play.”

Profar is in concussion protocol, and Rays third baseman Matt Duffy — acquired in the trade for Moore from the Giants — left Monday’s game with a hamstring injury and is listed as day-to-day. The Rays got worse news Monday on outfielder Kevin Kiermaier, who will miss 8 to 12 weeks recovering from thumb surgery.

Mallex Smith will be an every-day outfielder in Kiermaier’s absence and stepped up in Monday’s win by tying a career high with four hits, becoming the first player in baseball with two four-hit games this season. He’s batting .536 over his last seven games and he’s 6-for-6 against left-handed pitching in 2018.

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