Rays-Blue Jays Preview
Ben Zobrist, B.J. Upton and Sean Rodriguez have combined for 17
RBIs in 19 games this season. The trio totaled 28 in 18 matchups in
2010 against the Toronto Blue Jays.
Those struggling hitters will look to get untracked Friday night
for the Tampa Bay Rays in the opener of a three-game series at
Tampa Bay (9-10) went 10-8 against Toronto (8-10) last season,
with Zobrist hitting .279 with 13 RBIs and Upton (.290, 11 walks,
seven RBIs) and Rodriguez (.340 with eight RBIs) also faring
The Rays have had their share of offensive woes with season,
averaging 3.5 runs, and those hitters are a major reason why.
Zobrist is batting .197, Rodriguez .200 and Upton .210.
The Blue Jays, meanwhile, will look for their trio of Jose
Bautista, Aaron Hill and Adam Lind to provide similar production to
last year’s season series. Those players combined for 14 homers and
Hill, however, could miss a second straight game with a tight
right hamstring after sitting out Wednesday’s 6-2 loss to the New
“He’s feeling a bit better. We’re going to try and give it as
much time as we can,” general manager Alex Anthopoulos told the
Blue Jays’ official website. “With hamstrings, you don’t know. If
we had to put Hill out there on the field, I guess we could, but he
certainly isn’t at 100 percent.”
The Blue Jays do not need to rely as much on power this year.
New manager John Farrell has introduced an aggressive running
style, and his club is second in the AL with 23 steals.
“This is still a hit-first organization, and we want to maintain
that,” Farrell said. “We want to support that approach with a more
diverse approach on the basepaths, a little bit more
Running used to be a bigger emphasis for the Rays, who led the
majors with 172 steals last year. Carl Crawford, though, has gone
to Boston, and Upton has been caught twice in five attempts.
Upton went 0 for 10 in the final three games of this week’s
series against the Chicago White Sox. The Rays failed to complete a
four-game sweep with Thursday’s 9-2 home loss, but they’ve still
won eight of 10.
Designated hitter Johnny Damon went 1 for 4 in his return after
missing the previous three games because of a left ring finger
injury. He recorded his 2,585th career hit, moving him past Reggie
Jackson into 79th place all-time.
“He looked good after taking a couple days off,” manager Joe
Friday’s starters – Tampa Bay’s Jeremy Hellickson (1-2, 4.50
ERA) and Toronto’s Jo-Jo Reyes (0-2, 6.75) – have never faced their
Hellickson has alternated losses and wins in his first three
outings. The right-hander yielded four runs over seven innings in
Sunday’s 4-2 defeat against Minnesota.
Reyes has failed to complete four innings in two of three
starts. The left-hander went three-plus while walking five and
allowing four runs Saturday in a 4-1 loss at Boston.