ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. – Now that their latest losing streak has ended, the Tampa Bay Rays hope to continue in the right direction with three key members of their pitching staff back in the mix.
Getting closer to full strength, the Rays try to win consecutive home games for the first time in more than a month Saturday night against the Detroit Tigers.
Desmond Jennings hit a pair of solo homers off Justin Verlander and David Price tossed seven solid innings before leaving with lower back tightness to help Tampa Bay (41-36) snap a four-game skid with a 4-2 win over Detroit on Friday. The Rays have not won two straight games at Tropicana Field since May 22-23.
Jeremy Hellickson (4-3, 3.45 ERA) tries to help Tampa Bay do that Saturday when he comes off a stint on the disabled list with shoulder inflammation. He hopes for a better outing than his most recent one June 14, when he was roughed up for a season-high eight runs and three homers in 3 2-3 innings of a 9-6 loss to the New York Mets.
The right-hander appears ready after completing a strong bullpen session earlier this week.
“I felt really good,” Hellickson told the Rays’ official website. “I felt really good throwing everything, getting back on the mound, getting the feel out there.”
Though Hellickson is 1-2 against the Tigers, he’s posted a 1.77 ERA during those three starts.
Tampa Bay also regains the services of closer Kyle Farnsworth, who has yet to pitch this season because of a right elbow strain. Farnsworth, who went 5-1 with a 2.18 ERA and converted 25 saves in 31 chances for the Rays in 2011, feels confident after two minor league rehab appearances this week.
“I feel like I’m throwing pretty good, about as good as I’m going to get right now,” he said.
Fellow reliever Joel Peralta is eligible to return Saturday after serving an eight-game suspension for an excessive use of pine tar on his glove.
“This has been the longest eight days of my career,” said Peralta, who is 0-3 with a 4.20 ERA in 36 appearances. “I’m just going to come back and try to do my best. That’s all I can do, that’s all I want to do.”
The Rays, however, are still without injured sluggers Evan Longoria (hamstring) and Matt Joyce (oblique), and they’re hoping Price’s issue is nothing serious.
Jennings, meanwhile, is 5 for 11 in his last three games. He’s hit .375 in nine career games versus Detroit and is 2 for 4 against scheduled Tigers starter Rick Porcello (5-5, 4.71).
The right-hander has allowed three runs in 13 innings while splitting his last two starts. He gave up a run and struck out seven in six innings of an 8-2 win at Texas on Monday.
“For me, it’s control my tempo and delivery,” Porcello said.
He is 1-1 with a 3.15 ERA in three starts against the Rays. In the most recent of those April 10, Porcello yielded two runs in seven innings while not factoring in the decision of a 5-2 home win.
Former Rays outfielder Delmon Young homered and had two of the five hits Friday for the Tigers (37-40), who have lost three of four. Young is 6 for 13 with three RBIs in the last three games, and 7 for 16 versus Tampa Bay in 2012.
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