A discouraging stretch over the last week has dropped the Tampa Bay Rays out of first place in the AL East.
When these two struggling teams meet in Friday night's series opener in Philadelphia, Lee could give the Phillies the upper hand considering the Rays' recent offensive woes - especially against left-handers.
After holding a half-game lead atop the AL East on June 10, Tampa Bay (38-31) has lost six of nine to drop into third - 3 1/2 back of the first-place New York Yankees . The Rays haven't had much success offensively in that stretch, plating three runs or fewer six times.
Unable to get much going against Gio Gonzalez in losing Thursday's finale to Washington 5-2, Tampa Bay dropped to 9-14 against left-handed starters - the eighth-worst mark in the majors.
The Rays, hitting .225 against lefties - and just .183 this month - now have to face Lee (0-3, 3.48 ERA).
Lee wasn't particularly sharp Saturday in Toronto, allowing five runs and a season-high 12 hits in seven innings of the Phillies' 6-5 loss in 10. Philadelphia has lost eight of his 11 starts, but Lee's run-support average (2.90) is third-lowest in the majors."I can only control what I can control, I'm not going to get frustrated," Lee said. "Obviously I would like to have more wins. I would like for us to win more, period."
Lee hasn't faced the Rays since pitching for Texas in the 2010 AL division series, when he tossed a couple of gems. In Game 1, he struck out 10 over seven innings in a 5-1 victory, and he lifted the Rangers to the ALCS by fanning 11 without a walk while completing Game 5.
He'll now be looking to add to the misery of B.J. Upton, who is hitting .156 with 10 strikeouts in his last seven games, and Ben Zobrist , who is batting .176 with one RBI in the last five.
Although the Rays, who have made the playoffs three of the last four years, are struggling, they're still in possession of one of the AL's wild-card spots.
Five-time defending NL East champ Philadelphia has much more work to do. The Phillies (33-38) are 5-13 since June 2, dropping from 2 1/2 games out to nine behind the first-place Nationals.
Philadelphia is coming off Thursday's 4-1 loss to Colorado as it failed to complete its first three-game sweep. Jimmy Rollins hit a leadoff home run, and is batting .385 with seven doubles and eight runs in the last nine games."We have to come back out (Friday) with the outlook we're going to win (Friday's) game and play better," manager Charlie Manuel said.
The Phillies will be going up against James Shields (7-4, 3.72), who has allowed four runs - one earned - and 12 hits over 14 innings in his last two starts, both against Miami. The right-hander had recorded an 8.18 ERA in losing his previous two outings.
Shields last faced Philadelphia in Game 2 of the 2008 World Series, throwing 5 2-3 scoreless innings in a 4-2 win - Tampa Bay's lone victory in the Fall Classic.
The following June, the Rays took two of three from the Phillies at home, improving to 10-3 in the last 13 regular-season matchups. This is their first meeting at Citizens Bank Park since the World Series.
|Tampa Bay Rays|
|June 17, 2012||Matt Joyce||Day-to-Day||Flu|
|June 15, 2012||Jeremy Hellickson||15-Day DL||Right shoulder fatigue|
|June 14, 2012||Luke Scott||Day-to-Day||Mid-back spasms|
|June 12, 2012||Ben Zobrist||Day-to-Day||Bruised right hand|
|June 09, 2012||Luke Scott||15-Day DL||Mid-back spasms|
|May 19, 2012||Jeff Keppinger||15-Day DL||Broken right big toe|
|June 07, 2012||Freddy Galvis||15-Day DL||Lower back strain|
|June 05, 2012||Placido Polanco||Day-to-Day||Left game - left index finger laceration|
|June 02, 2012||Jose Contreras||60-Day DL||Torn UCL, right elbow - out for season|
|May 28, 2012||Roy Halladay||15-Day DL||Right latissimus dorsi strain|
|May 16, 2012||Placido Polanco||Day-to-Day||Left knee contusion|
|May 12, 2012||Vance Worley||15-Day DL||Right elbow inflammation|
PHILADELPHIA (AP) -- Once again, the Tampa Bay Rays are having weather problems in Philadelphia.
In their first trip back to the city since the historic Game 5 of the 2008 World Series that was played over two separate days, the Rays were forced to sit through a 2-hour, 48-minute rain delay before Friday's scheduled game against the Philadelphia Phillies was postponed.
"It seems like there's always a strange occurrence when we come here," Rays manager Joe Maddon said. "It's uncanny."
The Phillies and Rays began Game 5 of the 2008 World Series on Monday, Oct. 27, but the game was suspended with the score 2-2 after the top of the sixth due to heavy wind and rain. It continued two days later with the Phillies batting in the bottom of the sixth, and Philadelphia ultimately went on to win 4-3 to clinch the series.
There was nowhere near that drama on Friday as the teams never took the field.
Friday's scheduled game never got started due to heavy rain and wind, along with lightning and thunder, and was called at 9:53 p.m.
"(Umpire) Jim Joyce did the right thing," Maddon added. "We would've preferred to get the game in, but it wasn't going to happen."
The game has been rescheduled for Sunday as part of a day-night doubleheader, with the opener scheduled to start at 1:05 and the nightcap slated to begin at 6:35 p.m.
Sunday's game originally was scheduled for 1:35 p.m.
The teams now will open the three-game series at 4:05 Saturday with Rays right-hander James Shields (7-4, 3.72) scheduled to face Phillies right-hander Kyle Kendrick (2-7, 5.29). Shields was supposed to start Friday's game and said he would be ready to pitch on Saturday despite warming up on Friday.
"Absolutely, I'm good to go," he said. "I warmed up like I was going into the game. Then I shut it down a little when it started to rain harder."
Tampa Bay will use right-hander Alex Cobb (3-3, 3.82) and left-hander David Price (9-4, 3.08) on Sunday, though Maddon didn't say which order they would pitch.
The Phillies haven't announced their starters for Sunday's games. Left-hander Cliff Lee (0-3, 3.48) was scheduled to start on Friday. Phillies LHP Cole Hamels (10-3, 3.25) had been listed as a scheduled starter for Sunday.
NOTES: The Rays placed OF Matt Joyce on the 15-day DL with an oblique strain. . Rays right-handed reliever Joel Peralta will drop his appeal and begin serving his eight-game suspension immediately for using a foreign substance on his glove in Tuesday's game against Washington. ... Tampa Bay also made several other moves on Friday, reinstating INF Jeff Keppinger from the 15-day DL, recalling right-hander Brandon Gomes from Triple-A Durham, claiming INF Brooks Conrad off waivers, optioning OF Rich Thompson to Durham and designating INF Drew Sutton for assignment.