Series Preview: Tampa Bay Devil Rays

The White Sox are coming off their toughest, and most successfull stretch of the season and are now about to enter their easiest stretch as 19 of their next 21 games will be against teams with sub-.425 winning percentages, it all starting with a three-game set against Tampa Bay.

Opponent: Tampa Bay Devil Rays
Record: 28-55, .337, Fifth Place (AL East)
Place: Tropicana Field
Time & TV: Game 1: 4:15 p.m. (FSN); Game 2: 5:15 p.m. (WGN); Game 3: 12:15 p.m. (FSN)
2002 Record vs Sox: 3-4
2003 Record vs Sox: 0-0

THE LATEST
The Tampa Bay Devil Rays are seemingly making a case to reclaim their crown as the worst team in the American League. They have only won 9 of their last 36 games and are already 27 games under .500. Twenty-one year old phenom Rocco Baldelli leads the Rays with a .310 average while Aubrey Huff has 16 home runs and 49 RBIs. Tampa has featured 20 different pitchers to this point of the year, putting together an ERA of 5.06. The Devil Rays also have on of the leagues better relievers in Al Levine. He has a 2-5 record with a 1.71 ERA in 42 innings.

WHO'S HOT (Last 7 days)
Rocco Baldelli, CF: .333, 2 2B, 1 3B, 5 SB
--Baldelli is one of the few Devil Rays that is playing even remotely well at this point in the season. He can be counted on to try to make things happen when he gets on base as he likes to steal.

WHO'S NOT (Last 7 days)
Jason Tyner, RF: . 111, 1 hits in 9 at-bats, 1 BB, 0 R
--Tyner has been nothing but a huge disappointment for Tampa Bay as he has only played in 33 games all year and has spent a lot of time with the Durham Bulls.

PITCHING PROBABLES
Game #1:
Bartolo Colon (6-7, 4.20, 87 K) vs. Victor Zambrano (5-4, 4.04, 52 K)
--Zambrano has had a very strange season. He leads the AL with 52 walks, but he has the fourth lowest batting average allowed at .219. He throws a fastball, slider and changeup. Base runners often succeed stealing bases on him.

Game #2:
Esteban Loaiza (11-3, 2.18, 94 K) vs. Jorge Sosa (1-6, 5.06, 21 K)
--Sosa has incredible control problems and probably wouldnt be a starter on any other squad in the majors. He has two more walks than strikeouts and batters are hitting .302 off of him.

Game #3:
Mark Buehrle (6-10, 4.36, 63 K) vs. Jason Standridge (0-3, 3.99, 16 K)
--Standridge will be making only his sixth start of the season for the Devil Rays. He started, relieved and closed games for the Devil Rays Triple-A affiliate, the Durham Bulls. However, Standridge has been dependable in his starts so far as he has not given up four or more runs in any start.

KEY TO THE SERIES
Keep the Sox steamroller running. The White Sox need to realize that just because they are a better team on paper, they still need to play fundamental baseball to win. If the Sox dont go all-out, Tampa Bay will be a tough team to beat as many teams have found out.

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