Rays start Dioner Navarro over Kelly Shoppach

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When the Rays acquired Kelly Shoppach from the Indians this offseason I wondered what type of role that left for Dioner Navarro, because while the two catchers could form a platoon Tampa Bay seemingly paid too high a price for Shoppach to play him just 2-3 times per week.
The jury is still out in terms of how the playing time behind the plate will ultimately shake out, but manager Joe Maddon announced that Navarro will start the Rays’ opener tonight. However, he added that the decision was based on the matchup against Orioles starter Kevin Millwood and doesn’t necessarily mean Navarro will get the nod again tomorrow versus fellow right-hander Jeremy Guthrie (or future right-handers).
Shoppach is a right-handed hitter who has crushed left-handed pitching to the tune of a .295 batting average and .999 OPS while hitting just .224 with a .704 OPS versus righties. That seemingly makes him a candidate to sit against righties in favor of the switch-hitting Navarro, except Navarro has an even lower career OPS versus righties and had the worst OPS of any AL hitter with at least 400 plate appearances in 2009.

Astros extend winning streak to 11 games

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The Astros rallied late to keep their winning streak alive, extending it to 11 games with a 7-4 victory over the Royals on Sunday afternoon. The club is now 48-25, leading the Mariners by a full game in the AL West.

The Royals took a 4-2 lead after three innings, but Brian McCann knocked in a run with a single in the top of the fourth to cut the deficit to one run. Carlos Correa hit a game-tying solo home run in the eighth. The Astros kept their foot on the gas, scoring two more runs on RBI singles from Evan Gattis and Marwin Gonzalez in the top of the eighth and another in the top of the ninth on Correa’s sacrifice fly.

Starter Lance McCullers allowed four runs (two earned) on six hits and two walks with nine strikeouts over six innings. Tony Sipp worked a scoreless seventh. Ken Giles did the same in the eighth. Hector Rondon finished off the win in the ninth, working around a one-out walk with a game-ending double play.

After winning all 10 games on their road trip against the Rangers, Athletics, and Royals, the Astros will head home for a nine-game homestand against the Rays, Royals, and Blue Jays. Each club is below .500.