Preview: Rays hope bats come alive vs. Blue Jays’ Estrada
TV: FOX Sports Sun
TIME: Pregame coverage begins at 6:30 p.m.
TORONTO — The Tampa Bay Rays will try to end their hitting woes Tuesday against the Toronto Blue Jays at the Rogers Centre.
The potential is there for the Rays since the Blue Jays are starting right-hander Marco Estrada, who has not had much success against them.
Estrada (5-7, 4.85 ERA) is 0-3 with a 10.05 ERA in three starts this season against the Rays. He is 1-7 with a 4.43 ERA in 13 career appearances against Tampa Bay, including nine starts.
The Rays will start left-hander Blake Snell (0-6, 4.69 ERA). He is 1-2 with a 4.19 ERA in four career starts against the Blue Jays and is 0-1 with a 4.63 ERA against them in two starts vs. Toronto this season.
Snell is 0-1 with a 5.40 ERA in two career starts at the Rogers Centre.
“He’s got to be able to command the fastball for him to have success,” Rays manager Kevin Cash said.
While the Blue Jays (57-61) have won eight of their past 12 games and three in a row, the Rays (59-61) have lost four in a row and eight of their past 10.
Tampa Bay is batting .166 as a team over the past 10 games after losing 2-1 to Toronto on Monday.
“I don’t have any good answers,” Cash said. “I know it’s my responsibility to have answers, and I don’t have ’em right now. We hit some balls really hard (Monday). We hit some balls really high. It looked like we had four or five just-misses.”
The Rays were shut out five times during a 2-7 homestand that ended Sunday.
They scrounged out four hits Monday, the fourth game in a row — and the seventh game in their past nine — in which they have had four hits or fewer. They have scored one or no runs in six of their past 10 games.
The Rays’ run Monday came on a second-inning homer by catcher Wilson Ramos, his fourth of the season and first since July 6, a span of 74 at-bats. He is coming back from a knee injury incurred late last season.
“Wilson had a really good day of (batting practice),” Cash said. “Best BP session, and I know it doesn’t mean much, but it makes you feel good as a hitter that I’m swinging the bat a little bit better in BP. It was really nice to see it translate into a game. …
“He had some good swings. The just-missed home run (in the sixth), the home run and then also a couple foul balls. where he was right on some pitches, so he should go home tonight feeling pretty good about his swing and where he left tonight.”
The Blue Jays are now 18-15 in one-run games and have won three times when scoring one or two runs — two of those games against Tampa Bay.
“I feel like we’ve been on the wrong side of those a lot this year,” said Blue Jays third baseman Josh Donaldson, who hit a two-run homer in the first inning Monday. “Especially against Tampa Bay, I feel like they always figure it out against us. But we did a good job playing defense, and we pitched extremely well today.”
The Rays could see an improved Estrada if he continues his current trend. After going 12 games without a win dating to May 27, he pitched seven scoreless innings Thursday to beat the New York Yankees.
He has pitched seven innings in each of his past three starts and is 1-0 with a 1.71 ERA over that span.
Snell is also coming off a sharp outing. He allowed one run on four hits in 6 1/3 innings during a no-decision against the Cleveland Indians on Thursday. The Rays won the game 4-1.