Tampa Bay Rays (63-65) at Toronto Blue Jays (65-63), 1:07 p.m. (ET)
08/22/2014 10:38 AM
08/23/2014 10:35 AM
(SportsNetwork.com) - The Tampa Bay Rays find themselves north of the border for the weekend as they clash with the Toronto Blue Jays in a three-game set at Rogers Centre.
The Rays have won two straight since losing four in a row, but still sit two games back of Toronto in the American League East and 11 games behind division- leading Baltimore, following an 8-0 shutout in the first game of the series on Friday.
Starting pitcher Drew Smyly went the distance for the visitors, allowing just two hits and striking out four as he lowered his ERA to 3.42 and picked up his eighth win of the campaign.
"That was, for my money, the best pitching performance I've seen from a Ray in this ballpark," manager Joe Maddon said of Smyly's effort.
Evan Longoria delivered his 16th home run of the campaign for the Rays, one of his three hits, as he knocked in three on the night. Wil Myers contributed with his sixth home run and scored twice as he also worked a pair of walks. Kevin Kiermaier accounted for three of his team's 14 hits, two of those being doubles.
Jose Reyes and Steve Tolleson each notched singles for the Jays, losers of three of the last four and seven of nine.
"I figured we'd come out there tonight with a little more energy, and we didn't have it," said Blue Jays manager John Gibbons. "We made some mistakes, couldn't turn a big double play, waited back on a couple of balls, things like that."
Marcus Stroman started the game on the mound for the hosts, giving up six runs -- five earned -- on 10 hits and three walks through five innings. Stroman also struck out six, but the damage was just too great to overcome.
Heading back to the mound this afternoon for the Rays is right-hander Jeremy Hellickson. The Iowa native, who is 5-3 in his career with a 3.08 ERA in 12 appearances versus Toronto, has been active this season for less than two months.
The most recent outing for Hellickson took place last weekend against the New York Yankees as he surrendered three runs on four hits and two walks, while striking out five over as many innings. Hellickson was charged with the loss in that meeting, his second in the last four outings.
As for the Jays, they plan on countering with left-hander Mark Buehrle today. Buehrle, who started off the 2014 campaign a stellar 10-1 mark, has logged just a single win since the first of June, a victory over Boston at the end of last month.
Since the Red Sox triumph, Buehrle has dropped one and failed to earn a decision in two straight. The most recent outing for the left-hander came earlier this week against his former Chicago White Sox mates. Buehrle lasted 5 1/3 innings, giving up three runs on seven hits and walking three in what turned into a 6-3 victory for Toronto.
Buehrle, a 38th-round draft pick by Chicago in 1998, has a career mark of 10-5 with a 4.18 ERA in 25 appearances versus the Rays.
Despite losing David Price to the Detroit Tigers, the Rays are still holding up rather well in the pitching department with a combined 3.44 ERA which is eighth-best in the majors at the moment. Opponents are hitting only .235 against Tampa Bay hurlers as well, the fifth-lowest mark in baseball.
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