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Dodgers host reeling Rays in rare interleague trip to Los Angeles

Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

The Rays make a rare visit to Dodger Stadium for two games, and the team the Dodgers will face beginning Tuesday night has been playing some terrible baseball for quite some time.

Tampa Bay is 38-60 on the season, dead last in the American League East and the third-worst record in baseball. They were within a game of .500, at 31-32, as recently as June 15. But since then the team has absolutely cratered, dropping 28 of its last 35 games, the worst record in baseball over that span.

During the .200-winning-percentage skid, the Rays have been outscored 186-124, the worst run differential in baseball during that time. Tampa Bay is just 3-14 in their last 17 road games.

The Rays' strength is supposed to be their pitching, but their 4.40 ERA ranks 10th in the American League. Most of the damage of late has come from the bullpen, with a 5.26 ERA since the beginning of June.

The defense hasn't helped for the Rays, who were third in the majors in defensive efficiency in 2015 (71.6 percent of balls in play turned into outs) but this year have dropped to 18th (.698).

But the starters have disappointed, too, with a collective 4.28 ERA, ranking seventh in the AL. Chris Archer gets the call, looking to turn his season around, with a 4.60 ERA in 21 starts after a 3.23 ERA in 2015 and a 3.26 ERA from 2013-2015.

Archer, who was second in the American League with 252 strikeouts a year ago, leads the AL this year with 147 strikeouts in his 123⅓ innings. But he also leads the AL in walks, and his 20 home runs allowed are one more than he gave up in 34 starts in 2015.

The last pitcher to lead his league in both walks and strikeouts was Randy Johnson, who paced the AL with 144 walks and 241 strikeouts for the Mariners in 1992.

Bud Norris gets the call for the Dodgers, looking to turn things around in his own right. He allowed four home runs in two appearances last week, one in relief, and will be pitching on Tuesday night technically on three days rest, after his 23-pitch relief performance on Friday night in St. Louis.

Since throwing five scoreless innings in his Dodgers debut, Norris has allowed 14 runs on 23 hits in 16⅓ innings, with five home runs and 18 strikeouts.

This is just the second meeting between the Dodgers and Rays in Los Angeles, with the Dodgers sweeping a three-game series in 2013. After this Rays series, the only two American League teams not to visit Dodger Stadium at least twice will be the Royals and Twins, who last came to LA in 2003 and 2005, respectively.

Perhaps those last two will be rectified when the NL West plays the AL Central in interleague play in 2017.

Game info

Time: 7:10 p.m. PT

TV: SportsNet LA