This weekend, the Dodgers will be hosting a three-game series against the Tampa Bay Rays, but this is not just another interleague series, as the Rays have never played at Dodger Stadium before. On Friday, Tampa Bay will become the last team in the MLB to make their Dodger Stadium debut.
The Rays, formerly Devil Rays, have been an MLB franchise since 1998, and in those 15 years of existence they have played the Dodgers just six times, all in Tampa Bay. Besides this bit of trivia, the weekend series looks to be very interesting against this AL East contender.
Tampa Bay is currently two games out of first place in the AL East, and have a 1.5 game lead in the Wild Card standings. In their last 10 games they are 5-5 though, with two games losses to the Diamondbacks, but in July they were red hot.
Last month, they were the only team in baseball with a better record than the Dodgers, finishing at 21-5 and outscoring opponents by 51 runs. The only difference between these ballclubs is that the Dodgers have not stopped winning in August with a 7-1 record, while the Rays have stalled to start the month 2-3.
Some great pitching will be on display this weekend at Dodger Stadium with three former Cy Young winners on the mound. David Price, the defending AL Cy Young winner, starts for the Rays on Friday night, while the Dodgers will throw their Cy Young aces, Zack Greinke and Clayton Kershaw, on Saturday and Sunday.
Price spent most of May and June on the DL, but since his return on July 2nd he has allowed more than two runs just once in seven starts, and has an outstanding mark of 40/1 strikeouts to walks. In his last three starts alone he has pitched 25.1 innings and given up only 12 hits, and three runs with 17 strikeouts. So the Dodgers and Capuano have bring their "A" game to beat Price on Friday.
Other storylines include James Loney and Carl Crawford playing against their former teams. It is an odd coincidence that Crawford left the Rays after the 2010 season, signed with the Red Sox for 2011, and was traded in 2012 to the Dodgers for a package including Loney. Loney left Boston to sign with the Rays this past offseason.
Crawford's best years have come with the Rays. From 2003-2010 he hit 204 doubles, 99 triples, 102 home runs and had 400 stolen bases for Tampa Bay, making the All-Star team four times.
If all goes well the Dodgers should be able to take two of three from the Rays with Greinke and Kershaw closing out the series. On the road in 2013 the Rays are 29-26, while the Dodgers are 31-25 at home, and are on a ridiculous hot streak. In their last 23 games against teams over .500 the Dodgers have won 17.
After taking three of four from the Cardinals, who are a likely Wild Card, the Rays provide the Dodgers another test of the kind of teams the Dodgers could face in the playoffs.