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Rays: on deck

By MIKE READLING

© St. Petersburg Times,
published July 6, 2001


Up next: Marlins

Today: 7:15 p.m.

Saturday: 4:15 p.m.

Sunday: 1:15 p.m.

* * *

SCOUTING REPORT: Just when it looked as if Florida was going to turn into one of the best stories in the majors, the Braves got hot and the Marlins become the .500 team everyone thought they were to begin with. Florida has lost two in a row and is one game under .500 after spending most of the first half battling Philadelphia and Atlanta for the National League East lead. Florida is 45-30 in interleague play.

THE PAST WEEK: The Marlins are 1-7 in their past eight games, the win coming courtesy of a complete game shutout by Ryan Dempster on Tuesday. They have dropped four games in which they led, including losing two leads in one game in Philadelphia.

RAYS-MARLINS CONNECTIONS: Perhaps the biggest connection is Rays bullpen coach Darren Daulton, who was with the Marlins for their 1997 World Championship and recently was mentioned as a possible replacement when Florida fired John Boles as manager. Rays outfielder Randy Winn was a third-round draft pick by the Marlins in 1995 and spent three years in the organization.

ALL-TIME SERIES: The Marlins lead 14-5, winning the past five, including a three-game weekend series sweep last month. During that series, Florida outscored Tampa Bay 24-8 and outhit it .333 to .182. Some good news for the Rays: Florida is 3-5 at the Trop.

WHO'S HOT: Charles Johnson was selected to the National League All-Star team and is hitting .412 in his previous 10 games with 4 home runs, 5 doubles and 13 RBI. WHO'S NOT: Alex Gonzalez is hitting .183 in his previous 17 games, recording as many errors (5) as RBI.

Rays on Deck

Sunday: Marlins, 1:15 p.m. Ch.10 (Rays: Joe Kennedy, 3-1, 4.01; Marlins: Ryan Dempster, 9-8, 4.58

Monday No game, All-Star break

* * *

WHERE: Tropicana Field, St. Petersburg.

TV/RADIO: FSN; WFLA-AM 970, WLCC-AM 760 (Spanish).

TICKETS: Available at the Tropicana Field Box Office, Ticketmaster outlets and Devil Rays Dugout stores at WestShore Plaza and Brandon Town Center. Tickets also can be purchased by phone at (727) 898-RAYS or (813) 282-RAYS.

PROMOTIONS: Fans presenting a coupon from the St. Petersburg Times receive a $10 ticket for the Beach and two 16-ounce soft drinks or beers or one margarita for the third floor party deck near Gate 1. The first 15,000 fans 14 and under will receive a baseball glove. Info: Call 1-888-FAN-RAYS.

The pitchers

Tanyon Sturtze

Sturtze (3-7, 5.36) makes his 12th start of the season. In 11 starts he is 3-5 with a 5.35 ERA. In nine starts he has gone six or more innings. The Rays are 9-7 in his 16 career starts. He is looking for his first win since beating the visiting Mets 5-2 on June 9.

A.J. Burnett

Burnett (5-5, 2.89) makes his 12th start of the season. He is 1-0 in two career starts against the Rays. He took a shutout into the ninth inning June 15 at Pro Player Stadium before being charged with three runs in a 7-4 win. He has lost three in a row.

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