Blue Jays-Rays Preview
The Blue Jays will try to keep swinging hot bats as they seek a franchise-record 12th straight win Monday night in the opener of a three-game series at Tropicana Field.
Edwin Encarnacion homered and had four RBIs as Toronto (38-36) scored a season high in runs in its 13-5 win over Baltimore on Sunday. The Blue Jays' 11-game win streak matches the team record set in 1987 and equaled in 1998.
Toronto has consistently produced at the plate during its run, averaging 6.4 runs while hitting 20 homers and batting .343 with runners in scoring position.
Encarnacion is hitting .350 with four homers and 12 RBIs over that span, while Adam Lind is batting .341 - also with four homers and 12 RBIs.
"A lot of guys have been in a good rhythm at the same time, which is kind of what we didn't have to start the season,'' said catcher J.P. Arencibia, who had three hits Sunday.
The Blue Jays' rotation has yet to find a rhythm versus the Rays (39-37) this season, though, compiling a 6.97 ERA in seven games. Third baseman Evan Longoria has done the most damage, going 14 for 28 with two homers, seven doubles and 10 RBIs.
Tampa Bay looks to win consecutive games for only the third time this month after splitting a four-game series at Yankee Stadium with a 3-1 win Sunday.
Scheduled starter Jeremy Hellickson (5-3, 5.50 ERA) will attempt to cool off the Blue Jays and lead the Rays to their third win in nine home games. Hellickson has won three of his last four outings while posting a 2.65 ERA in those victories, and the right-hander bounced back from one of his worst outings of the season by giving up two runs over six innings in a 6-2 victory at Boston on Wednesday.
"I'm right where I want to be," said Hellickson, who is 3-2 with a 3.04 ERA lifetime against Toronto. "I just want to eliminate the big inning that I've been giving up.''
Hellickson has yielded five runs and 10 hits in 13 innings in two starts - both Tampa Bay losses after its bullpen blew leads - against the Blue Jays this season.
Slugger Jose Bautista has gone 3 for 4 with a homer in those meetings, improving to 7 for 15 with two homers, one double and one triple lifetime versus Hellickson. He's also batting .440 (11 for 25) with two homers, three doubles and nine RBIs against Tampa Bay this season.
The Blue Jays, who split a four-game series at Tropicana Field in early May, counter with right-hander Esmil Rogers (3-2, 3.14) as they seek their first six-game road win streak since April 7-23, 2010.
Rogers, who also has 23 appearances as a reliever, is 2-0 with a 1.71 ERA in four starts. He'll try to win his third straight outing after giving up two earned runs over 6 2-3 innings in an 8-3 win over Colorado on Tuesday.
"I've got unbelievable confidence right now,'' said Rogers, who makes his first career start against the Rays. "I can throw any pitch in any count.''
He has yielded two runs in three relief appearances spanning 5 2-3 innings versus Tampa Bay in 2013.