Sunday, April 12, 2015

Slow-starting Marlins, Rays meet for rubber game

 The Rays and Marlins will wrap up their three-game series Sunday afternoon at Marlins Park. A pair of right-handers go against each other in the rubber game, with Henderson Alvarez starting for Miami and Nathan Karns getting the call for Tampa Bay.
After using 21 players Friday night, the Rays got a seven-inning gem from Chris Archer on Saturday and should have their bullpen back up to full strength on Sunday. Jarred Cosart turned in six innings for the Marlins on Saturday, so their 'pen should be up to speed as well.
Both teams have gotten off to slow starts this season, which makes Sunday's game key, as the Rays head to Toronto for four games, while the Marlins take off for an 11-day, 10-game road trip to face the Braves, Mets and Phillies.
Things to know about this game
1. Karns got off to a rough start Tuesday night when he allowed six runs in the first two innings against the Orioles. To his credit, he bounced back and did not allow any further damage after manager Kevin Cash told him to "bow up." The rookie right-hander did not allow a hit or a run in his final 3 2/3 innings.
The outing "showed that I could make an adjustment," Karns said. "But I would have preferred it to be in the midst of that first inning rather than the third inning."
2. Evan Longoria has a career average of .538 with three home runs and six RBIs in 13 career at-bats against Alvarez. Desmond Jennings isn't far behind that mark with a .364 average, two home runs and four RBIs in 11 career at-bats against the Marlins right-hander.
3. Alvarez probably deserved a better fate on Opening Day. But the breaks didn't go the 2014 All-Star's way. Still, he gave up just two runs on six hits with two strikeouts in seven innings in a 2-1 loss to the Braves. This will be Alvarez's 90th big league start, and he holds a career 3.68 ERA to go along with a 27-31 record.
Alvarez faced the Rays once last year, and he went the distance, tossing an eight-hit shutout with five strikeouts.

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