Blue Jays-Rays Preview
A major eruption by the Toronto Blue Jays’ powerful offense
evened their series with the Tampa Bay Rays, but they’ve been
unable to break through in past meetings with David Price.
Tampa Bay’s standout left-hander looks to improve to 6-0 in his
career against the Blue Jays as the teams decide their three-game
set Wednesday night in St. Petersburg.
The Rays (81-51) slipped one game behind AL East-leading New
York after Toronto (69-63) scored 10 runs in the sixth inning of
its 13-5 win Tuesday night.
Jose Bautista’s major league-leading 43rd home run was one of
the Blue Jays’ three homers in the game, raising the team’s
MLB-high total to 201 – the second time in team history they’ve had
200 homers by the end of August.
Aaron Hill added a homer for the second straight game for
Toronto, which had its biggest inning since an 11-run sixth July
25, 2007, at Minnesota.
“They can really strike quick,” Rays manager Joe Maddon said.
“That’s what they do. That’s who they are.”
Toronto has split its 14 meetings with the wild card-leading
Rays this season, but has been held to three or fewer runs in 10 of
those games, frustrated by a staff that ranks second in the AL with
a 3.70 ERA.
“We have a tough time with those guys,” Blue Jays manager Cito
Gaston said. “Anytime we can score that many runs off that team
it’s always nice.”
Price (15-6, 3.01 ERA) has managed to quiet Toronto’s bats,
going 5-0 with a 2.09 ERA in six career starts against the Blue
Jays. This season, he has allowed one earned run – and no homers –
in 23 innings, winning all three outings.
While Price has already set Tampa Bay’s single-season franchise
record for victories, he’s looking to bolster a potential Cy Young
Award candidacy with his first win since Aug. 9.
The 25-year-old southpaw has posted a 4.26 ERA and received
limited run support in his last three outings, including a 3-1 loss
to Boston on Friday. Price allowed a season-high 10 hits, including
two solo home runs by Victor Martinez.
“He’s a good hitter,” Price said. “It’s frustrating, but it’s
part of it. You move on.”
He can do that by beating Toronto’s Shaun Marcum (11-7, 3.61)
for the third time this year.
Entering this season, Marcum was 2-0 with a 0.75 ERA in four
outings against Tampa Bay, but the right-hander has yielded 12 runs
and 20 hits in 12 1-3 innings while losing his two 2010 matchups
with Price and the Rays.
Marcum has been sharp lately, holding opponents to a .167
average while issuing three walks over 22 innings in his last three
starts. He’s 1-1 with a 2.05 ERA in that stretch.
He can help Toronto win a series at Tropicana Field for the
first time since April 6-8, 2007, but beating Tampa Bay has been a
difficult task for most opposing pitchers lately. The Rays averaged
more than five runs while winning 12 of 17 to close August.
They may get a boost from some new additions with rosters set to
expand Wednesday. Outfielder Rocco Baldelli, who began his major
league career with the Rays in 2003, is expected to return to the
club and see his first big league action of 2010.