Having already secured their first winning trip of the season, the Tampa Bay Rays look for a fifth consecutive victory Wednesday night against the Toronto Blue Jays.
Steven Souza Jr. homered for one of his three hits and five pitchers held Toronto to eight hits as Tampa Bay (5-3) improved to 4-1 on a seven-game trip with Tuesday’s 3-2 victory. The Rays dropped two of three at home to Baltimore and began this trip with a wild 10-9, 10-inning loss at Miami, but have allowed eight runs to win the next four.
They didn’t record a winning trip of more than three games last season until early July.
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Souza went 2 for 16 with one RBI and eight strikeouts in the first six games but is 4 for 8 with two RBIs in this series. His third career home run was measured at 463 feet – the team’s longest since Carlos Pena’s 466-foot drive June 13, 2009.
"It’s fun when it goes like that," said Souza. "Have you ever cut butter with a knife? That’s what it feels like."
Souza now gets his first look at Mark Buehrle (1-0, 3.00), who allowed two runs over six innings to pick up his 200th victory in Friday’s 12-5 rout at Baltimore. The left-hander joins CC Sabathia, Tim Hudson and Bartolo Colon as the only active pitchers to reach that milestone.
"You’re going to get your wins, I’m just fortunate to go out there, stay healthy and go deep into games when I can," Buehrle told the Blue Jays’ official website. "I don’t take it lightly, I know 200 wins is a great accomplishment."
Ten of those wins and his only perfect game came over 28 outings against the Rays.
A year ago against the Rays, Buehrle went 1-0 with an 0.83 ERA in three road starts and 1-0 despite posting a 4.74 ERA in three at home.
Desmond Jennings, who delivered a tiebreaking sacrifice fly in the eighth inning Tuesday, is batting .409 versus Buehrle.
With five starters on the disabled list, Tampa Bay has had to get creative with the back end of its rotation. Matt Andriese allowed two runs and five hits in 3 2-3 innings during his first career start Tuesday, but the bullpen picked him up.
The Rays will hand the ball to Erasmo Ramirez (0-0, 31.50), who allowed seven runs, six hits and walked three in two innings of relief in his Tampa Bay debut against the Marlins on Friday.
Acquired in a trade March 31 after spending his first three seasons in Seattle, the right-hander is 7-12 with a 4.72 ERA in 35 starts.
Josh Donaldson is 2 for 12 with a homer and three strikeouts against Ramirez.
Blue Jays sluggers Jose Bautista and Edwin Encarnacion are batting a combined .193 with three home runs this season.
Teammate and Toronto-area native Russell Martin went 1 for 4 in the season opener, but is 0 for 19 with nine strikeouts in his last six contests.
"I’m not going to be down on myself," he said. "I’m trying my best and I’m going to keep trying my best."