For starters, Rays at Astros with no Longoria
Update 11:52 a.m. Manager Joe Maddon said he told both Evan Longoria and Jason Bartlett last night they would have day off, just part of the plan to keep them fresh in this long stretch of games without breaks.
Maddon said he loves the fact Longoria wants to play every day - he has played in 131 consecutive games - but felt this was a prudent approach to keep their All-Star third baseman healthy. Maddon said Longoria would be available to pinch hit today.
"We're not looking for the next Cal Ripken right now in regards to number of games in a row played," Maddon said. "I just want to keep him well and healthy and on the top of his game.
"I do believe if you were to permit him (to play every game), I bet he could. But I don't think it is in his best interest or ours. I thought today was the right day to back off."
Maddon said he chose John Jaso for the third spot because he's worked the most consistent at-bats of anybody in the lineup and would be the best option to set up Carlos Pena.
Update 10:48 a.m. The Rays lineup has a few twists, with the biggest that Evan Longoria is not in the lineup. Manager Joe Maddon has said he was looking to get him a day off, especially in this long stretch of games, but Longoria has played all 43 games this season (and played in 131 consecutive games).
Hank Blalock will start at third, where he played almost exclusively in Durham and said he's feeling as comfortable there as he was in his first few years in Texas.
SS Jason Bartlett is also off, with Ben Zobrist in leadoff and C John Jaso - whom Maddon says has the most consistent at-bats on a nightly basis - is in the third spot in front of Carlos Pena.
Developing: The Rays will complete their five-game road trip with a matinee today against the Astros, before heading home for a three-game series with the Red Sox at Tropicana Field.
Tampa Bay has won three of the four games on this trip, and seven of its last eight overall, and starting pitching continues to be a big reason why. RHP Davis Price will take the mound today, hoping to improve on his American League-best six victories.
The Rays got a good sign last night with Carl Crawford going 4-for-5, and Ben Zobrist picking up three walks (tying a career high).
Here's the Astros lineup, with CF Michael Bourn and 1B Lance Berkman getting the day off
Rays lineup to come....