Kansas City at Tampa Bay

Venue: Tropicana Field

The Tampa Bay Rays don't currently look like the team that was scuffling to score runs back in June when they were swept by the Kansas City Royals.

The surging Rays put up some eye-popping offensive numbers against a fellow contender and will look for some revenge against the Royals on Monday night to start a three-game home set.

Tampa Bay (67-54) holds the AL's top wild-card spot after winning 11 of 13, capped by a four-game road sweep of the Angels. The Rays homered nine times and scored 37 runs - a team record for a four-game set - against one of the teams pursuing them for a postseason spot.

That kind of offense was largely absent when Tampa Bay produced six runs and batted .229 with 25 strikeouts while getting swept in three games June 25-27 at Kansas City (54-66).

Evan Longoria wasn't with the Rays then, and he went 5 for 16 with a pair of two-run homers in the Angels series. Ben Zobrist was 5 for 12 with two solo homers and six runs scored and B.J. Upton went 7 for 18 with two homers and five RBIs.

The Royals figure to be competitive despite not being in contention. While Tampa Bay is a major league-best 14-4 since July 31, Kansas City is 13-6 for the AL's second-best mark in that span.

Kansas City also swept a tough opponent over the weekend by taking three games from the AL Central-leading White Sox. Royals starters posted a 1.74 ERA in the series after Jeremy Guthrie took a no-hitter into the seventh inning of Sunday's 5-2 victory.

"It was a full-team affair, starting pitching, bullpen, clutch hitting, great defense," manager Ned Yost said. "It was a great series for us."

Salvador Perez went 4 for 8 with five RBIs in the series and Billy Butler was 5 for 9 for Kansas City.

"The thing that I really like about Sal in the five-hole right now is that he provides great protection behind Billy," Yost said.

The Rays haven't produced much offense in losing their last seven home games started by Jeremy Hellickson (7-8, 3.39 ERA). He is 0-6 with a 5.45 ERA in that span, with Tampa Bay totaling 12 runs of support.

The right-hander gave up one run over seven innings opposite Felix Hernandez's perfect game in last Wednesday's 1-0 loss at Seattle. Hellickson excelled in his lone career start against the Royals last year, yielding one run over 7 1-3 innings as he failed to get a decision Aug. 8 in a 2-1 home victory.

The Royals have dropped 24 of their last 30 games at Tropicana Field, including five straight.

They will give Will Smith (4-4, 5.09) his first career start against Tampa Bay. The rookie left-hander has allowed two runs over seven innings in winning each of his last two outings, beating Oakland 3-2 last Wednesday.

The Rays have played 13 straight days entering this series, and manager Joe Maddon is concerned about how his club will be affected by the cross-country flight.

"It's a scheduling thing and it's not easy because it's not just about (Monday)," Maddon told the Rays' official website. "Tuesday's going to be even worse, in regards to energy level."

Copyright 2014 by STATS LLC and The Associated Press. Any commercial use or distribution without the express written consent of STATS LLC and The Associated Press is strictly prohibited.
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Probable Starters

Will Smith, LHP
2012 stats
53.0 Innings Pitched 127.1
4-4 Wins-Losses 7-8
5.09 Earned Run Average 3.39
18 Walks 47
34 Strikeouts 80
88 Pitches Per Start 99
Career vs. opponent
- Innings Pitched 8.1
--- Wins-Losses 0-0
- Earned Run Average 1.08

Jeremy Hellickson, RHP
weather image  Widely scattered tstorms. High level clouds. Warm.
Hi TempLo TempWindHumidityPrecip %
TeamStandingsWLPct.GBL 10Strk
Kansas City2nd AL Central8973.54916-4 W 1
Tampa Bay4th AL East7785.475193-7 L 1
vs Jeremy Hellickson
vs Will Smith

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Game Odds
Kansas City 155 Tampa Bay -165
Kansas City
L. HochevarElbow
Tampa Bay
T. BeckhamKnee
Y. EscobarKnee
D. JenningsKnee
M. MooreElbow
J. PeraltaIllness
J. SandsWrist
Series Game Log
Apr 6TB 3:10 PM EDT  
Apr 7TB 7:10 PM EDT  
Apr 8TB 7:10 PM EDT  
May 1BAL 7:05 PM EDT  
May 2BAL 7:05 PM EDT  
May 3BAL 1:35 PM EDT  
May 29BAL 7:05 PM EDT  
May 30BAL   
May 31BAL 1:35 PM EDT  
Jul 24TB 7:10 PM EDT  
Jul 25TB   
Jul 26TB 1:10 PM EDT  
Aug 31BAL 7:05 PM EDT  
Sep 1BAL 7:05 PM EDT  
Sep 2BAL 7:05 PM EDT  
Sep 17TB 7:10 PM EDT  
Sep 18TB   
Sep 19TB   
Sep 20TB 1:10 PM EDT