Rays-Blue Jays preview
TORONTO -- The Toronto Blue Jays look like a tired, hurting team these days.
Or perhaps it is because they are playing the Tampa Bay Rays, a team they always find troublesome.
The Rays defeated the Blue Jays 6-2 on Tuesday night and clinched the season series against them, 10-8, for the eighth time in the past nine years.
No doubt, the Blue Jays will be glad to see the end of the Rays Wednesday afternoon when the teams play the rubber match of a three-game series ast Rogers Centre.
"We sit back and wonder," said Rays outfielder Steven Souza Jr. after he homered and walked three times on Tuesday. "I mean, that's one of the best ball clubs in the league and we always play them tough, even last year. If we could harness that and play the rest of the league like that, we'd be a pretty good ball club."
It has something to do with pitching, Left-hander Drew Smyly held the Blue Jays to two runs over 5 2-3 innings Tuesday and is 4-0 in six appearances, including four starts at Rogers Centre.
"He's one of those guys who have had our number, there's a couple like that in that room," Blue Jays manager John Gibbons said.
There have been many seasons when the Rays won the season series against the Blue Jays ad should have. They were the playoff-bound team and the Blue Jays were not. But Toronto won the American League East last season and are only two games out of first in the division this season and in the thick of the battle for the wild-card sports should they fall short there. The Rays are the only team with a losing record this season in the AL East.
The Blue Jays have played the first two games of the series against the Rays without third baseman Josh Donaldson who has a sore right hip, which was jammed when he stepped on first base when he reached on an error Sunday against the Boston Red Sox.
It is not believed to be serious, but it was not a certainty that he would play Wednesday afternoon.
"We'll take it day by day," Gibbons said.
The Blue Jays will start right-hander Marco Estrada (8-8, 3.68 earned-run average) on Wednesday and will face Tampa Bay right-hander Alex Cobb (0-0, 4.09 ERA) for the second time this month. This will be Cobb's third start in the majors since returning from Tommy John surgery.
Estrada, who struggled with back issues at spring training and during mid-season, is 0-2 with a 9.82 ERA in two starts in September. His last win was Aug. 29 against the Baltimore Orioles.
He is 0-2 with a 6.30 ERA in two starts against the Rays this season. He allowed seven hits and five runs in five-plus innings at Tropicana Field Sept. 3 when he pitched five excellent innings before failing to get an out in six batters in the sixth. He is 1-3 with a 2.18 ERA in nine career games, including five starts, against Tampa Bay.
Cobb allowed nine hits and four runs (three earned) in a no-decision start against the New York Yankees Thursday at Yankee Stadium. He started against Toronto on Sept. 2 and also did not factor in the decision, allowing four hits and two runs in five innings. He is 2-2 with a 4.45 ERA in five career starts against Toronto. He is 1-1 with a 5.56 ERA in two career starts at Rogers Centre.