For starters, Rays at A's, looking for a spark
UPDATE, 2:50: Maddon certainly makes it sound like a must-win game, keying on avoiding a sweep: "We've really got to try to bear down today and walk away with this game somehow. ... We've got to get it done today somehow."
UPDATE, 2:28: Maddon stressed the importance of winning today's game and avoiding the sweep. ... Maddon said he is pleased with the effort but the team needs to execute better, especially with runners on base. ... The reason C Curt Casali was using hand signals last night was that starter Drew Smyly had trouble seeing the usual signals. ... 2B Cole Figueroa is starting again in part because he matches up better vs. Gray than Forsythe and Rodriguez, and also because he won't play much over the weekend as the Cubs are starting two lefties.
UPDATE, 12:53: The Rays lineup has Molina catching and Figueroa at second base:
DEVELOPING: After losing the first two games to the A's and four of five overall, the Rays are on the field for a matinee series finale (3:35 Tampa Bay time) hoping to avoid the sweep.
The matchup is not favorable for the Rays, with RHP Jeremy Hellickson, who has not gotten through five innings in any of his three starts since coming off the DL, facing A's RHP Sonny Gray, who is 5-1, 1.07 over his last six starts, and 1-0, 0.61 ERA in two starts vs. the Rays.
The Rays leave after the game for Chicago, where they will enjoy an off-day on Thursday before opening a three-game weekend series with the Cubs.
Lineups when available.