Interleague play wraps up this weekend before the next round comes in October for the World Series. The theme for the Friday card is a handful of veteran pitchers looking to get on track before heading into the dog days of summer. One of those former Cy Young Award winners is actually seeking his first win of the season in the City of Brotherly Love.
Rays at Phillies - 7:05 PM EST
Tampa Bay is making its first trip back to Citizens Bank Park after losing Game 5 of the 2008 World Series to Philadelphia. These two teams are currently going in different directions as the Phillies try to dig out of a last-place hole, while the Rays attempt to cut a short deficit inside the AL East behind the Yankees.
Cliff Lee (0-3, 3.48 ERA) is making his 11th start of the season, but somehow the Phillies have struggled with the southpaw on the mound by winning just three times in his outings. Each of his last three trips to the mound have been decided by one run apiece, including a 6-5 setback at Toronto in which he allowed a season-high 12 hits and five earned runs in seven innings. Lee shut down the Rays twice as a member of the Rangers in the 2010 ALDS, giving up a total of two earned runs in two starts, including a victory in the series-clinching Game 5 at Tropicana Field.
The Rays send out James Shields (7-4, 3.72 ERA), who has picked up only one victory in his last seven starts. Shields is fresh off a no-decision last Saturday, as the Rays dropped a 15-inning decision to the Marlins as $1.35 home favorites, even though the righty allowed three runs (no earned) in 7.2 innings of work. Tampa Bay has cashed the 'under' in five of Shields' seven road starts, while the Rays own a solid 5-2 record in his outings away from Tropicana Field.
Braves at Red Sox - 7:10 PM EST
Atlanta looks to stay on a winning track on Friday night after taking the final two games at Yankee Stadium over a red-hot New York club. Boston is slowly heating up as the Red Sox captured their third straight interleague series by knocking off the Marlins twice at Fenway Park, as Bobby Valentine's team has won six of seven games.
The Braves lost young ace Brandon Beachy to Tommy John surgery, as Jair Jurrjens heads back into the Atlanta rotation. Jurrjens (0-2, 9.37 ERA) makes his first start since April 23, as the righty was immediately demoted to Triple-A Gwinett after putting together four consecutive non-quality outings. Heading to the minors didn't help matters for the former All-Star, who compiled a 5.27 ERA in nine starts at Gwinett. The Braves lost both of Jurrjens' starts against the Red Sox in 2009, including a 6-5 defeat at Fenway Park as a short underdog.
Jon Lester (4-4, 4.53 ERA) isn't exactly the best bet this season when pitching at home, putting together a 1-2 mark and ERA of 5.98 at Fenway (2-5 team record). Four of those defeats have come as a $1.45 favorite or higher, including an interleague loss to the Nationals on June 10 by a 4-3 count. Lester rebounded from that setback with a 4-3 victory over the Cubs at Wrigley Field, while cashing for the fourth time in his last five road starts. These two clubs are meeting for the first time since 2009, when the Red Sox grabbed four of six meetings from the Braves, including two of three at Fenway.
Rockies at Rangers - 8:05 PM EST
It's a battle of the haves against the have-nots in Arlington, as Texas attempts to improve on a league-best 43-27 record as well as extend its winning streak to seven. Colorado can't catch a break in interleague action, posting a disappointing 1-11 mark against American League competition with the only win coming in extra innings at Detroit. The Rangers will turn to an old arm making his season debut in the Texas heat.
Roy Oswalt signed with the Rangers in late May after spending last season in Philadelphia. The former Astros standout made four minor league starts, including a victory for Triple A-Round Rock on Sunday. Last season, the Phillies lost six times as a $1.50 favorite or higher with Oswalt on the mound, including a pair of defeats when laying at least $2.00. Oswalt has lost each of his last five starts at Ameriquest Field since 2005, but he also was given a grand total of six runs in support as a member of the Astros.
The Rockies counter with rookie Christian Friedrich (4-3, 5.60 ERA), who looks to build some consistency after losing at Detroit in his last start. Friedrich has turned in three road starts (2-1) in which he has allowed one earned run or less, but also the southpaw has given up five earned runs or more in three other outings (all at home). Even though Colorado has struggled for most of this season, the Rockies own a 7-4 record on Fridays, including a 4-1 mark away from Coors Field.
Giants at Athletics - 10:05 PM EST
Who would have thought one of the hottest teams in June is the Oakland A's? Bob Melvin's club is riding a 7-1 run, while winning three consecutive interleague series over the Rockies, Padres, and Dodgers. San Francisco heads back to the Bay Area after dropping two of three to the Angels, as their diminutive Cy Young Award winner hopes to get back in the win column.
Tim Lincecum (2-8, 6.19 ERA) is winless in his last nine starts, including a defeat in his hometown of Seattle last Saturday, 7-4 as $1.15 road favorite. Lincecum has put together just one quality start in this stretch, while the Giants are 1-6 in his seven road outings this season. The last time Lincecum faced the A's on May 20 at AT&T Park, the righty allowed four earned runs in four innings of a 6-2 loss. San Francisco is 2-1 in his three career starts at O.Co Coliseum, while losing to the A's last June, 5-2.
The A's send out Jarrod Parker (3-3, 2.82 ERA), who has given up one earned run or less in four of his last five trips to the mound. Parker's last home start came against the Rangers, as the right-hander pitched a gem by allowing just one hit in eight scoreless innings of a 12-1 blowout of the two-time defending AL champions. This is only the third time Parker is listed as a favorite, as the A's lost as 'chalk' on the road to the Twins and Giants, including an 8-6 defeat at AT&T Park last month.
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