Rays-Blue Jays Preview
Tampa Bay Rays at Toronto Blue Jays
- Tampa Bay has already clinched this season series, as they lead 10-6. This is the sixth straight time the Rays have won their season series against the Blue Jays.
- Tampa Bay has won 90 games for a fourth straight season. That is tied for the third-longest such streak by any AL team since 1998.
- Toronto lost to the Orioles 3-2 on Thursday to end a 2-5 road trip. It was just the 41st time the Blue Jays had been held to two runs or less this season, which is the fourth fewest such games in the majors.
- Jeremy Hellickson is undefeated in his last six starts against the Blue Jays, going 3-0 with a 2.45 (10/36.2) ERA during this streak. This is tied with three other pitchers for the second-longest active such streak against Toronto (Edwin Jackson -- 7).
- Evan Longoria needs two more home runs to tie Carlos Pena (163) for the most in franchise history. He also needs two more to tie his personal career high for homers in a season (33), which he set back in 2009.
- R.A. Dickey is 8-1 this season when he does not allow a home run in a game, compared to just 5-12 when he gives up one or more.
- MLB intends to ban home plate collisions
- RHP Colon, Mets agree to 2 years, $20M
- Mariners add sluggers Hart, Morrison
- Agent: Dodgers OF Kemp won't be traded
- Bucs extend RHP Morton for 3 years, $21M
By JONAH ROSENBLUM
(AP) -- The Tampa Bay Rays have discovered that beating up on bad teams is not as easy as the Cleveland Indians have made it look.
The Rays look to exact revenge on the last-place Toronto Blue Jays and clinch a share of the second wild-card spot with a win Saturday.
The Rays and Indians fought their way to the top of the race with a pair of seven-game winning streaks.
While Tampa Bay was dealing with fading postseason contenders in Baltimore and the New York Yankees, Cleveland took advantage of a triad of lowly teams in Houston, the Chicago White Sox and Minnesota.
On Friday, however, the Rays (90-70) were cooled of with a 6-3 loss in Toronto (73-87) as they failed to hold an early 2-0 lead and committed a season-high three errors.
"One of those games," manager Joe Maddon said. "We've been on a pretty good run. Go get a good night's sleep and come back tomorrow."
As a result, the Rays are now tied for the top wild-card spot with the Indians, who won their eighth straight Friday.
With Texas still a game behind, even after its 5-3 victory over the Los Angeles Angels Friday, Tampa Bay could clinch a 163rd game at the very least with a victory Saturday.
"We really still are in the driver's seat," third baseman Evan Longoria said. "It's not like we're playing catch-up at this point."
Tampa Bay had allowed four runs or fewer in seven straight leading up to Friday.
The one Tampa Bay pitcher who hasn't had a particularly good September is Chris Archer (9-7, 3.21 ERA), who is 1-2 with a 4.88 ERA in five starts this month. He went 6-2 with a 2.13 ERA in July and August.
"You don't see too many guys who throw in the upper 90s with that kind of secondary stuff," right fielder Wil Myers told the team's official website. "I don't even think he's tapped into his full potential yet."
After lasting seven-plus innings in seven of 11 starts in July and August, he hasn't recorded an out in the seventh since.
Archer's struggles carried into Monday, when he gave up four runs in 4 1-3 innings of a 5-4 victory over Baltimore.
The good news for Archer is that he is facing a Blue Jays team that he has held to two runs and nine hits in 14 innings this year.
Tampa Bay should be happy to see J.A. Happ (4-7, 4.85) again. The left-hander is 1-1 with an 8.44 ERA in four career starts against the Rays, though he did earn a 6-2 victory with 5 1-3 strong innings Aug. 17.
Happ hasn't had many wins since, going 1-5 over his last seven starts. That's due in no small part to the 13 runs the Blue Jays have scored for him over that stretch.
On Monday, he surrendered three runs - two homers - over five innings in a 3-2 loss to the White Sox.
James Loney, Ben Zobrist and Longoria are a combined 12 for 22 against Happ. Longoria is 8 for 17 with two homers and eight RBIs in his last four games, while Zobrist is 8 for his last 20.
Shortstop Yunel Escobar, hampered by a left ankle injury, is expected to make his first start for Tampa Bay since Sept. 23. He is 3 for his last 29 (.103).
The Blue Jays need to win their final two games to avoid finishing under .500 at home for the first time since 2004.
Updated September 28, 2013