If the Toronto Blue Jays want to salvage the remainder of their ten-game road trip and turn things around heading into the all-star break, they’ll need to pull off the nearly impossible: sweep the Tampa Bay Rays in three games.
Tampa Bay hasn’t been a friendly place for the Jays to play in recent years. Last season, they went 4-6 at Tropicana Field and 8-11 against the Rays on the whole. Today will mark the Jays’ second visit to Tampa Bay this season where they’ve gone 2-2 so far. It’ll also mark the third series between the two teams with Toronto holding a 5-2 advantage.
Of course, the Jays’ early season success against the Rays is largely attributable to their strong start and Tampa Bay’s struggles out of the gate. Unfortunately, that situation has been reversed in recent weeks where the Rays have gone 7-3 in their last ten games and climbed out of the basement in the American League East. Toronto, in comparison, is 3-7 in its last ten games and has lost two straight series after sweeping the Milwaukee Brewers in two games at Rogers Centre.
At the same time, Mark Buehrle (10-6), who gets the start for Toronto, will be looking for his first win since June 1st. He’s gone winless in his last six starts, which helps to explain the Jays’ recent slide. The loses, however, aren’t really his fault – Buehrle’s been fine. Instead, they’re the responsibility of the Jays’ inconsistent and oftentimes anemic offence. It seems the team as a whole has forgotten how to hit in clutch situations after blowing the competition out of the water in May.
Chris Archer (5-5) responds for Tampa Bay. He’s 1-1 against the Jays this season despite keeping them to two runs (all earned) over six innings of work on both occasions. Judging by this, today’s game might come down to defence and pitching – two other areas where Toronto has been inconsistent at times.
The Jays just can’t catch a break these days it seems. They’ll have to push hard for the win.