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Tampa Bay Rays: Joe Maddon named smartest in survey; loss to knuckleballer unusual for Rays

Rays vs. Mets

When/where: 1:10 today; Tropicana Field

TV/radio: Sun Sports; 620-AM, 680-AM (Spanish)

Probable pitchers

Rays: RH Jeremy Hellickson (4-2, 2.65)

METS: LH Johan Santana (3-3, 2.96)

On Hellickson: Joe Maddon insists Hellickson's last start, when he issued seven walks (two to the pitcher) in 41/3 innings at Miami, was an aberration. Up until that game, Maddon says, Hellickson was pitching as well as anyone on the staff. Hellickson hasn't won since May 16, but even that's misleading. His 2.65 ERA ranks fifth in the AL.

On Santana: Despite getting two extra days off following his 134-pitch no-hitter against the Cardinals, Santana still wilted in his encore performance. He surrendered seven hits, including a career high-tying four homers, in five innings in Friday's 9-1 loss to the Yankees. History says he'll bounce back today; Santana is 2-0 with a 1.85 ERA in four career appearances at the Trop.

Key matchups

Rays VS. SANTANA

Carlos Peña 8-for-26

B.J. Upton 1-for-7

Ben Zobrist 0-for-9

METS VS. HELLICKSON

None have faced

On deck

Friday: vs. Marlins, 7:10 p.m., Sun Sports. Rays — Matt Moore (3-5, 4.59); Marlins — Carlos Zambrano (4-4, 3.55)

Saturday: vs. Marlins, 7:15, Sun Sports. Rays — James Shields (7-4, 4.06); Marlins — Anibal Sanchez (3-5, 3.40)

Sunday: vs. Marlins, 1:40, Sun Sports. Rays — Alex Cobb (2-3, 4.70); Marlins — Josh Johnson (4-4, 4.27)

Monday: off

Survey of the day

The Rays' Joe Maddon was voted as the "smartest manager" in baseball in a Men's Journal magazine survey of 100 major-leaguers, drawing 25 percent of the voting to edge the Angels' Mike Scioscia (20 percent). The same survey had the Marlins' Ozzie Guillen as the "least respected" manager (at 36 percent), and had Philadelphia as having the league's "most obnoxious fans," getting 36 percent to easily beat San Francisco (22 percent).

Knuckling under

Despite Wednesday's struggles against R.A. Dickey, the Rays had fared well against knuckleballers in recent years, winning eight of their previous 10 games against them. Nine of those games were against Boston's Tim Wakefield, with a single win against Dickey.

No easy outs

Six of the Mets' 14 hits came from batters who entered the game hitting below .200: Jason Bay (.182), Ike Davis (.174), Mike Nickeas (.134) and Vinny Rottino (.185). Another three came from leadoff hitter Andres Torres, who was hitting .205 coming in.

Tampa Bay Rays: Joe Maddon named smartest in survey; loss to knuckleballer unusual for Rays 06/13/12 [Last modified: Wednesday, June 13, 2012 11:08pm]
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