Tampa Bay Rays at Toronto Blue Jays series primer

Rays' Yunel Escobar (right) gives Cole Figueroa a bath for his RBI double which gave Tampa Bay a 1-0 walk-off victory over the Red Sox on Friday. The Rays posted three straight walkoffs during their recent homestand.


Two walk-offs. A fifteen-inning game. A benches-clearing incident. A sweep. Don’t ever say the Tampa Bay Rays’ latest series, a three-game stew of emotion against the Boston Red Sox, was stale or boring.

Now what will Joe Maddon’s men do with their momentum?

This is uncharted territory this season. The story of the Rays’ first 47 games went something like this: They can’t score; their starting pitching can’t last six innings; some of their star offensive talent — we’re looking at you, Evan Longoria and Wil Myers — were silent at the plate.

Now, there’s a new narrative: The Rays have discovered how to win again.

So whatcha got now?

Tampa Bay jets north of the border with a four-game winning streak for the first time this season. Awaiting the Rays are the American League East-leading Toronto Blue Jays, who are doing what everyone thought they would last year after adding big names like shortstop Jose Reyes and right-hander R.A. Dickey.

Win. Win. Win.

"They’re a really good ballclub," Maddon said. "Talked about them last year. They were predicted to be very good last year and a lot of bad things happened. But they are good, and now it’s starting to come together for them. So it’s going to be a very interesting series."

Tampa Bay Rays news

How fast fortunes change. Last Thursday, the Rays were one strike from the Oakland Athletics sweeping them. They were one strike from tumbling to 10 games below .500. They were one strike from more questions, more frustration.

Instead, they lived a pivot. Sunday, they finished the deed against the reeling Red Sox, whose snake-bitten persona resembles the way Tampa Bay stumbled through April and most of May.

If you’re the Rays, life is looking up, up, up: The season’s first sweep, a 4-2 homestand, new-found pop at the plate. The trick will be keeping the run alive against the best the division can offer in May’s waning days.

Here’s a closer look at the Rays-Blue Jays series:



Evan Longoria (Rays): He hit .321 (9 for 28) with one home run and one RBI in six games from May 20-25. He had three multi-hit games in the span. He has hit .271 with five home runs and 23 RBI this season.

Jose Reyes (Blue Jays): He hit .346 (9 for 26) with four RBI in six games from May 20-25. He had three multi-hit games in the span. He has hit .246 with three home runs and 14 RBI this season.


Jose Molina (Rays): He hit .077 (1 for 13) with three strikeouts in four games from May 20-25. He has batted .071 with seven strikeouts in May. He has hit .108 for the season.

Brett Lawrie (Blue Jays): He hit .160 (4 for 25) with three strikeouts in six games from May 20-25. He had no more than one hit in four games in the span. He has hit .225 with eight home runs and 26 RBI this season.


6: Shutouts posted by the Rays this season after they beat the Red Sox 1-0 on Friday at Tropicana Field. It was their first shutout at home since July 14, 2013, against the Houston Astros. They had earned 11 road shutouts in between.

3: Consecutive games the Rays won in walk-off fashion, after beating the Red Sox 6-5 in 15 innings Saturday at Tropicana Field. This feat is a first in franchise history, and according to the Elias Sports Bureau, they became the first team in the majors to do it since the Philadelphia Phillies from Aug. 21-23, 2013. The Rays have 61 walk-off victories since the start of the 2008 season, the most in the majors in that span.

Tampa Bay Rays on FOX Sports Sun

700: Games won by Maddon with the Rays after Tampa Bay’s 8-5 victory over the Red Sox on Sunday at Tropicana Field. It came on a day when the Rays earned their fourth sweep in team history of a defending World Series champion. Boston left Tropicana Field with a 10-game losing streak for the first time since losing 11 straight from June 8-19, 1994.



May 30-June 1 — Rays at Red Sox

You can follow Andrew Astleford on Twitter @aastleford or email him at aastleford@gmail.com.