Blue Jays-Rays Preview

The Tampa Bay Rays have put a disastrous start behind them

despite having Evan Longoria on the disabled list for the last

month.

Longoria will return Tuesday night against one of his favorite

opponents as the Rays open a three-game series against the Toronto

Blue Jays at Tropicana Field.

Longoria left Tampa Bay’s second game of the season and went on

the DL the following day with a strained left oblique muscle.

Hitless in five at-bats for the Rays (15-13), Longoria spent this

past weekend with Double-A Montgomery and had four hits, including

three homers, in 15 at-bats over four games.

“It feels like I’ve been gone so long,” he said. ”I’m just

happy to be back, and back in the lineup.”

Tampa Bay will have Longoria, who hit .294 with 22 homers and

team highs of 46 doubles and 104 RBIs last season, back in the No.

3 spot in the lineup Tuesday, and it seems to come at a perfect

time.

The three-time All-Star hit .385 with nine RBIs and 12 runs in

18 games against the Blue Jays last season, and is batting .464

with one homer and 14 RBIs in his last 16 home contests against

them.

The Rays have won 23 of 29 meetings with the Blue Jays (13-15)

at Tropicana Field, and took two of three in Toronto from April

22-24.

Tampa Bay seemed to be on the verge of winning its sixth

straight series Sunday, leading Los Angeles 5-0 after one inning,

but ended up losing 6-5 to drop two of three to the Angels. The

Rays, who opened 1-8, have won 13 of 17.

“We’ve got to do a better job of a keeping a lead,” Joe Maddon

said.

Maddon turns to Wade Davis (3-2, 2.73 ERA), who allowed two runs

and seven hits in 6 2-3 innings in Wednesday’s 8-2 win over

Minnesota.

Davis has posted a 1.74 ERA in winning his last three starts,

and has yielded two or fewer runs in each of his last four outings.

The right-hander won a career-best four consecutive starts last

July.

Davis, whose turn in the rotation didn’t come up in the series

in Toronto last month, has recorded a 1.84 ERA in winning his last

two starts against the Blue Jays. He has limited Jose Bautista to

one hit in nine at-bats.

Bautista, who has nine homers and a .530 on-base percentage,

left a 5-2 loss to New York on Sunday with neck tightness, and he

was not in the starting lineup Tuesday.

Bautista went 7 for 8 with three solo homers, a double, triple

and five walks against the Rays last month.

Manager John Farrell gives the ball to Jo-Jo Reyes (0-2, 5.48)

who could be pitching to keep his spot in the rotation.

Reyes hasn’t won since June 13, 2008, while pitching for

Atlanta, having gone 23 starts since his last victory.

“He’s a pretty aware young guy,” Farrell told the Blue Jays’

official website. “He’s understanding of the situation he’s in, and

he would do himself and certainly us a world of good to go out

there and pitch a good game.”

The right-hander permitted six runs – all in the third inning

and all unearned because of a one-out throwing error by third

baseman Edwin Encarnacion – and five hits in a season-low 2 2-3

innings in a 7-6 loss to Texas on Wednesday but didn’t receive a

decision.

Against Tampa Bay on April 22, Reyes gave up four runs and six

hits – three to Sam Fuld – in seven innings of a 6-4, 11-inning

win.