Tampa Bay Rays
Rays try to earn their stripes against D-Backs tonight
ST. PETERSBURG - We'll find out tonight when the Tampa Bay Rays take on the Arizona Diamondbacks if it really was the stripes that stopped the Rays three-game losing streak Thursday afternoon, if the blue and white stripes on several players' stirrups brought together that combination of good pitching, timely hitting and solid defense not seen lately around Tropicana Field. More importantly, we'll learn more about the left shoulder injury that sidelined left fielder Carl Crawford after two innings Thursday and was called "day-to-day" after the game. And we'll say hello to a couple of old friends - Rays outfielder Matt Joyce, recalled from triple A Durham on Thursday afternoon, and Edwin Jackson, who tied a team record with 14 wins for the Rays during the 2008 championship season was traded to Detroit for Joyce and now pitches for the Diamondbacks. Jeff Niemann (6-1, 2.84) will try to point the Rays to back-to-back wins for the first time since June 8 and 9 when he faces Jackson (4-6, 5.05) tonight as the Rays begin the final interleague series of the year.Rays manager called Thursday's 5-3 win against the Padres an "exhale" win. Center fielder B.J. Upton, who hit the third leadoff home run of his career, agreed. "We expect a lot out of ourselves," he said. "We've gone through a rough stint, but that's the reason we got off to a good start for things like this to happen and not get out of hand. We've been playing good baseball and we can't get down on ourselves, keep pushing forward. With this being baseball, you know this is going to happen. I don't think any team can really get around it. You're going to hit a rough spot. "The great teams know how to deal with the rough spots, know how to work through them, and I think we're a great team. We've matured over the years. We kind of have an idea what we're doing." Upton, who will face his younger brother Justin for the first time ever, was one of several players to wear the stirrups Thursday. Shortstop Jason Bartlett didn't, but noted after the game that all those who did had hits in the victory. "I might wear them (tonight)," he said. Maddon, who also wore them, isn't going to mess with the mojo. "My socks (stirrups) will be there (today)," he said. "I am making a commitment to the sock."