Rays-Blue Jays Preview

The Tampa Bay Rays own the best road record in the majors.

The Toronto Blue Jays aren’t having much luck at home.

Hot-hitting Matt Joyce looks to help the AL East-leading Rays

win for the 12th time in 13 road games and sweep a two-game set

from the Blue Jays on Thursday night.

Tampa Bay (25-18) has won 11 of 12 away from home – outscoring

the opposition 81-33 in that span – to improve to 14-5 there.

Joyce has played a prominent role in that success of late,

batting .417 with three homers, five RBIs and 10 runs in his last

six road games after hitting .233 with one RBI in his first 11.

The right fielder hit a two-run shot for his seventh homer of

the season in Wednesday’s 6-5 victory.

“He just absolutely mangled that ball,” manager Joe Maddon

said.

Despite those heroics, Joyce is 5 for 38 with five RBIs in 16

career games versus the Blue Jays (21-22). The homer was his first

hit in 19 career at-bats at Rogers Centre.

Tampa Bay will send Wade Davis (4-3, 3.47) to the mound trying

to regain his momentum.

The right-hander was charged with a 6-0 loss to Baltimore on

Saturday, allowing four runs and seven hits – two homers – in 5 1-3

innings. He’d gone 4-0 with a 2.56 ERA in his five prior

outings.

That stretch included a 3-2 Rays win over Toronto on May 3, when

Davis allowed two runs in six innings but didn’t get a decision in

a game ultimately decided by B.J. Upton’s two-run walkoff

homer.

Davis is 2-1 with a 2.60 ERA in four starts versus Toronto.

The Blue Jays saw their six-game overall winning streak end

Wednesday as they lost for the sixth time in their last nine home

games. Three of those defeats have come against the Rays.

Toronto committed a season-high five errors in the series opener

– two by first baseman Edwin Encarnacion, who leads the majors with

10.

“I’m sure you could point to every team having a stretch in

their schedule where they performed less than anticipated,” manager

John Farrell told the Blue Jays’ official website. “I think going

forward, I think it will come down to consistency and starting

rotations. There will come a point in the season where we look back

and say, ‘What is the reason why a team separated itself from the

group?’, and I think that is what we will end up pointing to.”

Farrell will give the ball to Ricky Romero (3-4, 3.35), whose

best performance of the season came in Friday’s 2-0 victory at

Minnesota. The left-hander carried a no-hitter into the sixth

inning and pitched 8 2-3, limiting the Twins to four hits while

striking out nine.

Romero is 0-2 with a 4.58 ERA over his last three home starts,

but he’s received just one run of support in that span and none in

the last two. He lost 2-0 to Tampa Bay on April 24, when he gave up

two runs and struck out 10 over seven innings while Toronto’s

offense was four-hit by James Shields.

Jays slugger Jose Bautista is doing just fine at home with a

.432 average, eight homers and 10 RBIs. However, he’s 1 for 9 with

no extra-base hits lifetime versus Davis.