The Rays' usual designated hitter, veteran Johnny Damon, will be starting tonight's game on the pine. Rays manager Joe Maddon has opted to give Dan Johnson a rare start at DH as Damon gets a regular day of rest. Johnson came into the season as the Rays' everyday first baseman, but has since slipped into a platoon role with Casey Kotchman.
Johnson, though he has struggled mightily this year, has the lowest batting average on balls in play (BABIP) among Rays players, likely meaning he has undergone a long and unpleasant spate of bad luck. Hopefully his fortunes can turn around tonight against one of the league's luckiest pitchers, Josh Tomlin.
The Rays starting lineup, per MLB.com:
Fuld, S, LF
Zobrist, B, 2B
Longoria, E, 3B
Joyce, M, RF
Upton, B, CF
Kotchman, C, 1B
Rodriguez, S, SS
Johnson, D, DH
Jaso, J, C
Players to watch:
- Ben Zobrist and Matt Joyce have been on serious hot streaks. Both have been displaying amazing power and patience over the last few weeks and should only improve with all-pro slugger Evan Longoria sandwiched between them.
- For as unlucky as Dan Johnson has been, Casey Kotchman has been equally lucky. Though Kotchman has been a notable better hitter this year, possibly thanks to his recently improved vision, his BABIP is still about 100 points higher than his career norm. Hopefully Kotch's luck will cool off after the Rays finishing playing the hot Indians.
- Sam Fuld has been on a cold streak of his own, but not of any fault of his own. Despite making solid contact, Fuld has a laughably unlucky .091 BABIP over the last 12 games. Rays fans can rest assured: The Legend has not gone away.