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.