Blue Jays-Rays Preview
The Toronto Blue Jays will not lose an 18th consecutive series at Tropicana Field.
Winning a third straight game there is far less certain with Matt Moore taking the ball for the Tampa Bay Rays.
Toronto will try to extend its season-best winning streak to four - and clinch its first series win at St. Petersburg in six years - Wednesday night when Moore could tie the major league lead with a sixth victory.
With no series wins visiting the Rays (14-18) since April 6-8, 2007 - that skid was the third-longest in an opponent's park in AL history - the Blue Jays (13-21) will at least split this four-game set after rallying to win each of the first two. After J.P Arencibia's two-run ninth-inning homer capped a seven-run comeback in Monday's 8-7 win - which ended Toronto's eight-game skid at Tropicana Field - Maicer Izturis hit the go-ahead solo shot in a two-run ninth in Tuesday's 6-4 victory.
The win was the Blue Jays' season-best third in a row, but their only concern was starter J.A. Happ, who was hit on the head by Desmond Jennings' line drive in the second inning and had to be wheeled off on a stretcher. He was taken to a hospital where he was listed in stable condition.
"It's devastating. ... I could barely watch it," Toronto pitcher R.A. Dickey said. "... It's really, really scary. I just started praying in the spot. That's all I knew to do."
Happ will still be in their thoughts, but the Blue Jays have to turn their attention to Moore (5-0, 1.95 ERA) as they go for their first four-game win streak since Sept. 5-9.
The young left-hander has a chance to become the first Rays starter since Jeff Niemann in 2010 to win his first six decisions. Moore failed to do that in a 7-4, 10-inning victory at Colorado on Friday when he yielded season highs of four runs and seven hits in five innings while walking four.
"Overall command of all my pitches (was the issue)," he told the Rays' official website. "I figured something out there with the breaking ball, but it didn't turn into a weapon for me until I was ahead in the count."
The left-hander has gone 1-1 with a 3.26 ERA against Toronto in four starts - all last season.
The Blue Jays will give the ball to Ricky Romero (0-1, 6.75) as they go for a season-best third straight road win. The left-hander, an All-Star in 2011, makes his second appearance of the season after getting called up to replace Josh Johnson (triceps soreness) on Friday. Romero retired the first nine he faced before giving up three runs in the fourth inning of a 4-0 loss to Seattle.
The southpaw took a one-hopper to the forearm in that frame and didn't return for the fifth inning. X-rays were negative.
"Nothing to hang my head about," said Romero, who has won once in his last 15 decisions. "Just looking forward to getting some rest and preparing for my next outing."
Ben Zobrist, 1 for 4 on Tuesday in his return from the bereavement list, leads active Tampa Bay players with nine hits - including two homers - off Romero in 30 at-bats.
Rays third baseman Evan Longoria, 7 for 24 with a triple and a double against him, is batting .450 with two homers and 10 RBIs in his last six games versus Toronto.
Blue Jays center fielder Colby Rasmus has a two-run homer in each of the last two games, but he's hitless in seven at-bats versus Moore.
Toronto hasn't won three in a row at Tampa Bay since a four-game run May 13-June 3, 2006.