Watch CBS News

Game Preview: Athletics At Rays

(AP) - The Oakland Athletics open this four-game series against the Tampa Bay Rays with the starter who has a substantially lower ERA, though there's reason to believe that won't give them that big an advantage.

That's because the Athletics are baseball's worst defensive team while the Rays are one of the best heading into Thursday night's matchup in St. Petersburg, Florida.

Oakland (14-28) owns the game's worst record and starts Jesse Chavez opposite Alex Colome (2-1, 6.05 ERA).

Chavez (1-3, 2.63) will have to worry about a defense that has committed a major league-worst 44 errors - 16 by shortstop Marcus Semien, who has 10 in his last 11 games.

Tampa Bay (22-19), in contrast, is tied for the fewest in the majors with Detroit with 15. The Rays have allowed an AL-low six unearned runs while the Athletics have yielded the most in baseball with 28.

Oakland has lost 12 of 14 overall and seven of its last eight on the road.

"There's a lot of frustration that builds up when we don't win and that's where we are as a team right now," manager Bob Melvin said. "We're going to have to play our way out of it."

Former Texas manager and Oakland base coach Ron Washington will be brought in as a special instructor to work with Semien and other infielders on defense during this series.

The Athletics are uncertain whether Coco Crisp will play in this series since he sat out Wednesday's 6-1 loss at Houston with tightness in his neck. Crisp, who is 2 for 45 this year, is slated to see a neck specialist.

Tropicana Field is the closest major league stadium to the hometown of designated hitter Billy Butler, who is from the Jacksonville area. Butler's .227 average at Tampa Bay is his second-worst in an AL city.

"At this point we're definitely not where we thought we'd be," Butler said. "We have plenty of time to redeem ourselves."

Catcher Stephen Vogt is expected to be back in Thursday's lineup after giving way to Josh Phegley in Wednesday's day game. Vogt is third in the AL with a 1.018 OPS.

Chavez is 1-3 with a 3.19 ERA in five starts, limiting the Chicago White Sox to two runs in six innings Saturday as he did not get a decision in a 4-3 defeat. He has made three relief appearances and no starts against Tampa Bay, with James Loney going 1 for 6 against him.

Fellow right-hander Colome has never faced Oakland. Colome gave up three runs in 3 1-3 innings in Saturday's 6-4 defeat at Minnesota.

The Rays capped a 2-3 trip by stranding nine runners in Wednesday's 2-1 loss to Atlanta.

"It's tough to win ballgames when you leave that many guys on and only get one run," manager Kevin Cash told MLB's official website.

Evan Longoria will play his 1,000th game Thursday. His .219 average against Oakland is his worst against an AL club.

Semien is batting .364 during an eight-game hitting streak for Oakland, which went 4-2 against Tampa Bay last year.

Updated May 21, 2015

© 2015 by STATS LLC and Associated Press.
Any commercial use or distribution without the express written consent of STATS LLC and Associated Press is strictly prohibited.
View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.