The Toronto Blue Jays will be going for a three-game sweep of the visiting Tampa Bay Rays in the series finale Sunday afternoon at Buffalo.
The Rays hope a two-run ninth inning in the 6-3 loss on Saturday might provide some momentum toward ending a five-game losing streak.
The Blue Jays have won 10 of their past 13 games.
Blue Jays manager Charlie Montoyo feels that this could be a sign of better things in the second half of the season.
“We’ve got to keep pitching and we’ve got to keep catching it,” Montoyo said. “We are going to hit, so that’s the main deal. You’re going to win in this league with pitching and defense. That’s just what it is.”
The Rays, who have been outscored 42-17 in the past five games, have lost 10 straight on the road.
“We’re a good team that’s not playing very well right now,” Rays manager Kevin Cash said after the Blue Jays won the opener 11-1 on Friday. “I think that’s fair to say.”
They proved their manager to be correct on Saturday with shoddy defensive play that included two errors.
The Blue Jays will start left-hander Robbie Ray (6-3, 3.43 ERA). Ray has two starts against the Rays this season, going 0-0 (2.77 ERA) over 13 innings with no walks and 16 strikeouts. He is 0-1 (3.52 ERA) in four career outings against Tampa Bay.
Ryan Yarbrough (4-3, 4.48) is expected to start for the Rays. The left-hander is 0-0, 2.31, in two games (one start) against Toronto this season. He is 6-1, 2.43, in 14 career appearances (six starts) against the Blue Jays.
Tampa Bay still holds a 5-4 edge over Toronto in the season series between the American League East rivals, but frustration is setting in.
“Frustration is a good word,” Cash said. “We are frustrated. These guys have set a pretty high bar for themselves. They expect to win. And on top of that they expect to be in every game. We all do. There’s been some games that we’re just not really in. Encouraging that we got the (two) runs there at the end. … But we have not played to the level that we’ve set here for quite some time.”
The Rays have lost 12 of their past 16 games. Infielder Joey Wendle, who was 1-for-4 with a double Saturday and made a crucial error in Toronto’s five-run sixth, said it comes down to execution.
“It seems like things that we’re usually pretty solid at, we’re not right now,” he said.
Rays infielder Taylor Walls (wrist) struck out as a pinch hitter in the eighth inning Saturday after being activated from the injured list. Right-hander Luis Patino was optioned to Triple-A Durham.
Toronto activated catcher Danny Jansen (hamstring) from the IL list and optioned Riley Adams to Triple-A Buffalo.
Jansen did not play Saturday. Reese McGuire has played well enough to earn the bulk of the playing time. He is batting .232 (13-for-56) with three doubles, three home runs and seven RBIs in his past 22 games after hitting .073 (4-for-55) in his first 21 games.
“McGuire has done a good job,” Montoyo said. “I see him continuing to catch a lot, and then we’ll see where Danny gets in.”
–Field Level Media