Bartlett's back vs. Astros
For the Rays, there rarely have been any "breaks" in their schedule, as they've consistently had to fend off first-place teams, including their recent sweep of the best-in-the-majors Cubs.
But this weekend's series against the struggling Astros will be different; Houston has lost eight straight and are 33-40.
Manager Joe Maddon downplayed any thoughts of a letdown:
“Better not,” Maddon said. “We have not done anything yet, and this team is a good team over there. You look at their offensive guys – that is a good offensive club, and they can bite you at any moment. I guess they’ve been struggling back and forth with different components of their game, but the names on that team are very good and I’m certain they’re going to get back in the hunt very soon also. There’s no way we can take these guys lightly – they’re good.”
SS Jason Bartlett returned to the lineup, saying the swelling has gone down considerably on his left foot, which he bruised yesterday during BP.
Tonight's pitching matchup should be interesting, with Matt Garza and Roy Oswalt. For Garza, it'll be interesting to see - especially coming off a growth moment in controlling his emotions his last start - how the 24-year-old righty responds.
Matsui 2 b
-- JOE SMITH