For starters: Rays at Dodgers,with Hellickson hitting 8th
UPDATE, 6:44: Hellickson is the second Rays pitcher to bat higher than ninth, joining Andy Sonnanstine, as the result of a 2009 lineup mixup at home (see below). He is the fourth AL pitcher to hit higher than 9th since interleague play began in 1997, joining New York's David Phelps, who hit 8th on May 8, 2013 at Colorado, and Kansas City Zack Greinke, who hit 8th June 23, 2009 at Houston, and Sonnanstine.
UPDATE, 6:37: Hellickson is batting 8th. Maddon said there were several reasons why, primarily that he felt the lineup would better and specifically would create more opportunites for Wil Myers in the 2nd spot, with Longoria and Zobrist behind him. Maddon said the secondary reason is that it could accelerate his decision to remove Hellickson, who has not been pitching well, for a pinch-hitter. ... Also, both Matt Moore and pitchiing coach Jim Hickey said his bullpen session went very well, 50 pitches with a mix of fastballs at close to game speed and a very sharp curveball. "I couldn't imagine it feeling any better,'' Moore said. ... Maddon said Alex Cobb is penciled in to start Thursday.
M. Ellis 2b
A. Ellis c
DEVELOPING: Winless thus far on their cross-country interleague roadtrip, the Rays try to at least end on a good note as they face the Dodgers again tonight on ESPN's Sunday Night Baseball.
RHP Jeremy Hellickson will be on the mound for the Rays, and potentially batting eighth, as manager Joe Maddon ponders different options. One problem for the Rays is that their starting pitchers have failed to finish five innings five times in their last eight games - two of those by Hellickson.
If Maddon does bat Hellickson eighth, it will be the second time in Rays history the pitcher batted anywhere but ninth. On May 17, 2009, a mistake on the lineup card (listing both Evan Longoria and Ben Zobrist at third base) resulted in pitcher Andy Sonnantine having to bat third - and he hit a double.
The big challenge for the Rays is that LHP Clayton Kershaw will be on the mound for the Dodgers.
The Rays start the day three games behind the Red Sox in the AL East race, their largest deficit since before the All-Star break, 3 1/2 games on July 13.
The four-game losing streak matches the Rays longest of the season; they haven't lost five-straight since the start of the 2011 season. No other team has gone as long without a five-game losing streak.
The Rays also need a win to avoid their first winless road trip of two or more series since Julky 2008, at New York and Cleveland.
This is the eighth time the Rays have been on ESPN's Sunday Night Baseball; they are 2-5, with the two wins coming in their last three apperarnces.
Lineups when available.