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Oakland A's at Tampa Bay Rays series preview: Finally, the A's don't play the 1927 Yankees

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The Oakland Athletics (14-21) visit the Tampa Bay Rays (15-17) for three games at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Fla.

Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Against the Tampa Bay Rays, the Oakland A's will hope to stop the bleeding with this final series of the three-city road trip, the last road series against an AL East opponent. Now that they're not playing two of the top nine offenses of the last 97 seasons of Major League Baseball, I think the Green and Gold have a chance to hold a team to fewer than 11 runs.

Tampa Bay's wRC+ 97 ranks seventh in the AL, and how the Rays get to that number feels a lot like the 2012 A's. The Rays own the lowest batting average in MLB (.224) and the lowest on base percentage in the AL (.296), but have the sixth best slugging percentage (.406) in the AL and trail only the Orioles and Red Sox in isolated slugging (.182) in the AL.

At the plate, Brandon Guyer, Steve Pearce, Logan Forsythe, and Steven Souza are off to great starts, but those are balanced by Desmond Jennings, Hank Conger, Tim Beckham, and Logan Morrison off to terrible ones. Evan Longoria has seen his strikeout rate

The Rays outfield, patrolled by Kevin Kiermaier, Steven Souza, and Desmond Jennings, has a well-deserved great defensive reputation. The infield, on the other hand, has not been great, with Brad Miller's range at shortstop rating extremely poorly, 1B Logan Morrison, 1B Steve Pearce, and 2B Logan Forsythe merely average. Third baseman Evan Longoria remains consistently good. Tim Beckham has been a little bit better at second base, but he's hitting very poorly.

Probable matchups and broadcast schedule

Watch out for the start times jumping around.

Time (PT) TV Oakland Tampa Bay
Fri. 4:10 PM CSNCA LHP Rich Hill (3-1, 3.38) RHP Jake Odorizzi (0-1, 3.10)
Sat. 3:10 PM CSNCA RHP Kendall Graveman (1-4, 5.74) RHP Matt Andriese (1-0, 1.29)
Sun. 10:10 AM CSNCA RHP Sonny Gray (3-4, 6.00) LHP Matt Moore (1-3, 4.83)
Friday: LHP Rich Hill vs. RHP Jake Odorizzi

Rays 2B Logan Forysthe is still being held out of this game with a shoulder issue. It's the third straight game Tampa Bay's leadoff hitter has missed.

Rich Hill will have to contend with Tampa's potent lineup against left-handers. Their 115 wRC+ against southpaws is second best in the AL, with Pearce, Guyer, and Souza the ones to watch out for.

DRaysBay's Adam Sanford offers this preview on Jake Odorizzi's recent outings:

Jake Odorizzi is still somehow winless despite posting the second best season for Rays starting pitchers to date. He's given up two runs or less over five of his seven starts. His last time out was on the 7th against the Angels where he allowed two runs on five hits, and he also walked a batter while striking out four. He would get a no-decision, but the Rays went on to win that game.

Saturday: RHP Kendall Graveman vs. RHP Matt Andriese

Matt Andriese is coming off a strong seven-inning start against the Angels in which he allowed one run on four hits in seven innings, picking up the win in the 3-1 contest. This will be his second major league start of 2016.

Sunday: RHP Sonny Gray vs. LHP Matt Moore

The A's finally face a left-handed starter, Oakland's first in 17 games, but it will be a close call to see if catcher Josh Phegley will be available after he got a cortisone shot on Thursday for right knee inflammation, reports the San Francisco Chronicle's Susan Slusser on Twitter.

Moore has not pitched like an All-Star since his 2013 All-Star campaign. He's coming off two starts where he failed to escape the fifth inning, and is 3-for-7 in quality starts.

Bullpen

Alex Colome is 9-for-9 in save opportunities with a 1.80 ERA, but the Rays bullpen has concentrated a staggering number of innings on Colome and Erasmo Ramirez, hiding some of its weaknesses. Ramirez's 23 relief innings leads baseball. Deep starts from Rays starters have made the backend of the Rays bullpen non-factors for the most part, but we'll see if the A's can get Dana Eveland to throw a few innings.

A's bullpen Recent usage (pitch count from www.rosterresource.com)
Player Hand IP ERA FIP 12-May 11-May 10-May 9-May 8-May 7-May
Ryan Madson R 14.2 1.23 2.82
O
F
F

D
A
Y
25
Sean Doolittle L 13.2 3.95 5.00 17 3
John Axford R 15.0 3.60 4.03 27
Ryan Dull R 19.1 3.72 4.49 31 32 22
Fernando Rodriguez R 20.1 1.77 2.55 34 20
Marc Rzepczynski L 13.0 3.46 3.56 7 12 22 3
Andrew Triggs R 5.0 3.60 2.30 20 28 15
Rays bullpen Recent usage (pitch count from www.rosterresource.com)
Player Hand IP ERA FIP 12-May 11-May 10-May 9-May 8-May 7-May
Alex Colome R 15.0 1.80 2.03
O
F
F

D
A
Y
34 12 12
Erasmo Ramirez R 23.0 1.96 3.36 28 23
Xavier Cedeño L 8.2 3.12 2.86 20 6
Steven Geltz R 11.1 4.76 7.86 11 30 10
Enny Romero L 13.1 3.38 4.15 7 20 10
Ryan Webb R 9.0 5.00 5.54 16
Dana Evaland L 7.0 10.29 6.24 18