The Tampa Bay Rays still maintain hope to climb into the American League wild-card race, while keeping an eye on the future, as they begin the second half Friday with the opener of a three-game interleague set with the visiting Miami Marlins. The Rays dropped three of four at Minnesota before the All-Star break, but have won 15 of their last 22 overall and trail Seattle by 8 1/2 games for the AL's second wild-card spot.

Tampa Bay will have to start their quest without All-Star catcher Wilson Ramos, who suffered a hamstring injury last weekend and was placed in the 10-day disabled list Wednesday, while they will field offers for several players before the trade deadline. Nathan Eovaldi, one of those players teams may be interested in, will make his 10th start of the season for the Rays in the opener of the Citrus Series and will be opposed by Miami veteran right-hander Dan Straily - another possible trade target. The Marlins won five of their last seven before the break, including series wins at home against National League playoff hopefuls Milwaukee and Philadelphia. Veteran second baseman Starlin Castro, who leads the team with a .291 batting average, was 8-for-14 with two walks as Miami took two of three from Tampa Bay from July 2-4.

TV: 7:10 p.m. ET, FS Florida (Miami), FS Sun (Tampa Bay)

PITCHING MATCHUP: Marlins RH Dan Straily (3-4, 4.29 ERA) vs. Rays RH Nathan Eovaldi (3-4, 4.59)

Straily has strung together four straight quality starts after being ejected in his June 19 outing at San Francisco, but managed just a 1-1 record in that stretch. The 29-year-old Marshall product allowed nine earned runs on 18 hits and nine walks over 25 1/3 innings in his past four starts, including a no-decision versus Milwaukee on July 11. C.J. Cron is 2-for-2 with a double and a homer against Straily, who lost his only career start versus the Rays last year.

Eovaldi was pounded for eight runs on nine hits over 2 2/3 innings at Minnesota on Friday in his last outing before the break after posting three straight quality starts. The 28-year-old Texan blanked the New York Mets on one hit with nine strikeouts in a victory on July 8. Castro (5-for-9) and Miguel Rojas (3-for-3) have had success against Eovaldi, who held the Marlins to two runs on eight hits over six innings in a no-decision July 2.


1. Miami rookie RF Brian Anderson is 14-for-40 with three homers and eight RBIs over his last nine contests.

2. Tampa Bay SS Adeiny Hechavarria is 8-for-23 with three RBIs during a current six-game hitting streak.

3. The Marlins own an NL-worst 18 road wins and the Rays have won 14 of their last 15 home games.

PREDICTION: Rays 6, Marlins 2