Trying to shake out of his early-season slump, Evan Longoria showed up at the ballpark Wednesday with a new look, trimming back most of the beard that opened eyes upon his arrival at spring training. The extra grooming changed both the fortunes of Longoria and the Tampa Bay Rays, who go for a three-game sweep of the visiting Detroit Tigers on Thursday afternoon.
Longoria collected three hits and drove in three runs as the Rays improved to 7-2 at Tropicana Field despite blowing an early four-run lead with a stunning ninth-inning comeback. Logan Morrison hit what appeared to be a game-ending double-play ball, only to see Detroit shortstop José Iglesias trip over the second-base bag and throw wildly past first, allowing the tying and winning runs to score in Tampa Bay’s 8-7 victory. The Tigers wasted some big production from the top of the order, receiving six hits and seven RBIs from their Nos. 2-4 hitters - Nicholas Castellanos, Miguel Cabrera and Victor Martinez. Detroit also has a potential injury concern in Iglesias, who took a knee to the face from a sliding Brad Miller and was down on the field for a long time following the bizarre game-ending play.
TV: 1:10 p.m. ET, FSN Detroit
PITCHING MATCHUP: Tigers LH Daniel Norris (1-0, 2.19 ERA) vs. Rays RH Erasmo Ramírez (1-0, 3.72)
Despite taking a line drive off the back of his throwing shoulder in his last start, Norris broke into the win column by blanking Cleveland on two hits over six innings. He also tossed 6 1/3 innings of three-run ball in his season debut versus Boston, but the one concern is yielding seven walks in 12 1/3 frames. Norris owns a 2.25 ERA and 11 strikeouts over 12 innings in two career starts versus the Rays.
Ramirez made all but one of his 64 appearances out of the bullpen last year, but he is no stranger to the rotation after making 27 starts and going 11-6 for Tampa Bay in 2015. All five appearances this season have been in relief, including four innings at Boston on Saturday in which he gave up one run on three hits. Miguel Cabrera is 3-for-4 with a homer off Ramirez, who is 0-1 with a 9.35 ERA against Detroit.
1. Tigers LF Justin Upton, who suffered a right wrist contusion in the series opener, is doubtful to play Thursday.
2. Rays CF Kevin Kiermaier is 8-for-17 with seven runs scored during a four-game hitting streak.
3. Castellanos became the first Detroit player with two triples in a game since Austin Jackson on Aug. 5, 2012.
PREDICTION: Tigers 4, Rays 3