MLB

Fri, Aug 16, 2013 - 7:10 PM ET
 

Blue Jays-Rays Preview

Share This Story

   
 

Manager Joe Maddon figured bringing a reptile into his team's clubhouse would spark the struggling Tampa Bay Rays in their pursuit to regain the AL East lead.

What he'll do to try and prevent Toronto Blue Jays starter R.A. Dickey from another stellar performance at Tropicana Field remains to be seen.

Tampa Bay looks to beat visiting Toronto for the fourth straight time as the clubs begin a three-game set Friday night.

Maddon, whose club had lost six straight prior to beating Seattle 5-4 on Wednesday, presented his team with a 20-foot python prior to Thursday's series finale, with most players avoiding touching the snake.

"In doing our research, my personal research, 2013 happens to be the year of the snake on the Chinese calendar,'' Maddon said. "We needed a little bit of motivation within the clubhouse. And then furthermore, you find out that it's representative of risk taking and creative thinking. I thought it fit in perfectly with what we're trying to do around here.''

The Rays (68-51) went out and earned a 7-1 victory over the Mariners behind a two-run homer from Evan Longoria and four RBIs from rookie Wil Myers. They pulled within two games of the East lead as Toronto beat first-place Boston 2-1 earlier in the night.

Maddon may need to pull some more unusual tactics with Dickey (9-11, 4.46 ERA) pitching on the road, especially at Tropicana Field.

The last time knuckleballer pitched in St. Petersburg, he tossed a two-hitter and beat the Rays 3-0 on June 26. He's 2-1 with a 2.15 ERA in four career starts at Tampa Bay, including a one-hitter with only one unearned run allowed in the ninth inning of a 9-1 victory while pitching for the New York Mets on June 13, 2012.

Dickey is 5-5 with a 3.08 ERA on the road compared to a 5.79 ERA in Toronto. He has a 3.86 ERA during a 10-start streak overall of pitching at least six innings after allowing three runs in seven frames before the Blue Jays (56-65) fell 6-4 to Oakland on Sunday.

"That's what I always (try) to do," said Dickey, 1-0 with a 1.74 ERA in his last three outings. "Every time out, I try to throw a quality start."

Mark Buehrle did just that in Thursday's victory as Toronto took two of three from the Red Sox. Pinch-hitter Mark DeRosa's sacrifice fly in the seventh broke a 1-all tie.

The Blue Jays have scored two runs or fewer in three of their last four, but they'll look to bust out against Tampa starter Jeremy Hellickson, who is trying to end a dismal stretch.

Hellickson (10-6, 4.93) has lost three straight starts while posting a 9.75 ERA after giving up four runs and seven hits in three innings of Sunday's 8-2 loss to the Los Angeles Dodgers. He's pitched fewer than five innings in each outing during his skid after going 6-0 with a 2.09 ERA over his previous seven starts.

''I'm not pitching well,'' Hellickson said. "The last two weeks have been very frustrating, but I'll be OK.''

The right-hander has been solid against the Blue Jays this season, though, going 2-0 with a 2.52 ERA in four starts. He won the last two, giving up one hit in seven innings of a 4-1 victory June 24 before allowing two runs in five frames of a 4-3 win July 20.

Hellickson is 2-1 with a 1.80 ERA in four career home starts versus Toronto, but Jose Bautista is 8 for 21 (.391) with three homers lifetime against him.

Tagged: Blue Jays, Rays, R.A. Dickey, Jeremy Hellickson

Related Stories

Member Comments

Please note by clicking on "Post comment" you acknowledge that you have read the Terms of Use and the comment you are posting is in compliance with such terms. Be Polite. Inappropriate posts may be removed by the moderator.

powered by



MLB Videos

Bautista talks Derek Jeter's final All-Star Game Posted: Jul 16, 2014
Jose Bautista discusses Derek Jeter's career and his final appearance in the MLB...

Jeter honored to play in last All-Star Game Posted: Jul 16, 2014
Derek Jeter compares his first All-Star Game experience with his last, Mike Trou...

Matheny defends Wainwright: He's out there to compete Posted: Jul 16, 2014
Mike Matheny comments on the media's reaction to Adam Wainwright's joke about le...

SimLeague Baseball - Simulation Baseball Game

More Than Sports on MSN

Fox Sports Store

    itemName itemURL imageSrc price itemDescription
    Nike New York Yankees Practice T-Shirt - Ash http://shop.foxsports.com/FOX_New_York_Yankees/browse/featuredproduct/606363/source/foxsports_prsp_ca http://images.footballfanatics.com/FFImage/thumb.aspx?i=/productImages/_606000/ff_606363_xl.jpg&w=100 27.95 Nike New York Yankees Practice T-Shirt - Ash
    Majestic Detroit Tigers 2012 MLB American League Champions Clubhouse Locker Room T-Shirt - Navy Blue http://shop.foxsports.com/FOX_Detroit_Tigers/browse/featuredproduct/1064043/source/foxsports_prsp_ca http://images.footballfanatics.com/FFImage/thumb.aspx?i=/productImages/_1064000/ff_1064043_xl.jpg&w=100 24.95 Majestic Detroit Tigers 2012 MLB American League Champions Clubhouse Locker Room..
    Majestic San Francisco Giants 2012 MLB World Series Champions Clubhouse Locker Room T-Shirt - Gray http://shop.foxsports.com/FOX_San_Francisco_Giants/browse/featuredproduct/1067359/source/foxsports_prsp_ca http://images.footballfanatics.com/FFImage/thumb.aspx?i=/productImages/_1067000/ff_1067359_xl.jpg&w=100 24.95 Majestic San Francisco Giants 2012 MLB World Series Champions Clubhouse Locker R..
    Majestic San Francisco Giants 2012 MLB World Series Champions Clubhouse Locker Room Pullover Hoodie - Steel http://shop.foxsports.com/FOX_San_Francisco_Giants/browse/featuredproduct/1067382/source/foxsports_prsp_ca http://images.footballfanatics.com/FFImage/thumb.aspx?i=/productImages/_1067000/ff_1067382_xl.jpg&w=100 54.95 Majestic San Francisco Giants 2012 MLB World Series Champions Clubhouse Locker R..
    New Era San Francisco Giants 2012 MLB World Series Champions Clubhouse Locker Room 39THIRTY Flex Hat - Charcoal/Black http://shop.foxsports.com/FOX_San_Francisco_Giants/browse/featuredproduct/1067785/source/foxsports_prsp_ca http://images.footballfanatics.com/FFImage/thumb.aspx?i=/productImages/_1067000/ff_1067785_xl.jpg&w=100 31.95 New Era San Francisco Giants 2012 MLB World Series Champions Clubhouse Locker Ro..
    Majestic San Francisco Giants 2012 MLB World Series Champions Glory T-Shirt - Black http://shop.foxsports.com/FOX_San_Francisco_Giants/browse/featuredproduct/1068294/source/foxsports_prsp_ca http://images.footballfanatics.com/FFImage/thumb.aspx?i=/productImages/_1068000/ff_1068294_xl.jpg&w=100 21.95 Majestic San Francisco Giants 2012 MLB World Series Champions Glory T-Shirt - Bl..
    Majestic San Francisco Giants 2012 MLB World Series Champions Batting Practice Performance Jersey - Black/Orange http://shop.foxsports.com/FOX_San_Francisco_Giants/browse/featuredproduct/1068787/source/foxsports_prsp_ca http://images.footballfanatics.com/FFImage/thumb.aspx?i=/productImages/_1068000/ff_1068787_xl.jpg&w=100 94.95 Majestic San Francisco Giants 2012 MLB World Series Champions Batting Practice P..