TV: FOX Sports Florida
TIME: Pregame coverage begins at 7:30 p.m.
ARLINGTON, Texas — A weekend in St. Petersburg, Fla., was exactly what the Texas Rangers needed.
A three-game sweep of the Tampa Bay Rays not only turned around a season that appeared to be quickly unraveling, but it also reminded the Rangers of what they did so often last year on the way to a second consecutive American League West title.
The Rangers hope to ride that momentum when they begin a nine-game homestand against the other franchise that calls the Sunshine State home. A three-game interleague set against the Miami Marlins starts Monday night at Globe Life Park.
Comebacks and close wins were Texas’ calling card in 2016, and that was the daily recipe against Tampa Bay. The Rangers trailed by multiple runs in each game only to win all three by a single run, including 6-5 Sunday.
“Our guys know what the urgency is to win baseball games,” Rangers manager Jeff Banister said after Texas’ first sweep of at least three games at Tampa Bay since 1999. “And to win them in the fashion we did in this set of three comeback wins, an extra-inning win — just a show of the heart and the grit these guys have. I think it’s a huge plus for us going forward.”
Texas (48-50) had lost five straight before getting to Tampa Bay and appeared on the verge of falling out of the wild-card race, along with becoming sellers at the trade deadline.
Instead, the Rangers are just 2 1/2 games out of the second AL wild card as they return home.
The Marlins (44-52) had a five-game road winning streak snapped Sunday with a 6-3 loss at Cincinnati, but arrive in Texas having won their past six road series. Miami took two of three against the Reds.
The return of shortstop Miguel Rojas last week was a welcome boost to the Marlins after he missed more than two months with a fractured thumb. He drove in a run Sunday and went 1-for-4, leaving him 4-for-15 in four games back.
“It’s good to be back with the boys,” Rojas told MLB.com. “I think the energy that you feel in the big-league levels is different than when you play in the minors or when you play in a rehab game.
“I was trying to get ready for this opportunity, for this situation, because I knew I was going to get my opportunities to play a little bit more, and I want to make sure that I’m ready to go. I’m pretty happy with these couple days.”
The Marlins are sending Adam Conley (2-3, 6.75 ERA) to the mound in the Monday in the series opener. The lefty is making his second start since being recalled from the minors last week. He threw six innings of two-run ball Tuesday in a no-decision against the Philadelphia Phillies.
Conley has never faced the Rangers.
Texas counters with Martin Perez (5-7, 4.72), who is making his 100th career start. The left-hander is 1-0 with a 2.95 ERA over three starts against the National League this season, though he has never opposed the Marlins. He had a three-game winning streak snapped in his last start, a 10-2 loss to Baltimore on Wednesday. He gave up five runs in six-plus innings.
Texas is 7-11 in his 18 starts.
The Rangers and Marlins last met in 2014, splitting home-and-home series. Texas is 3-5 all-time at home against Miami. The Rangers are 10-2 (.833) vs. NL clubs in 2017, baseball’s third-best winning percentage in interleague games this season. The Marlins are 7-10 against the AL this year.
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