Sliding Rays hope to rebound against Blue Jays


The visiting Tampa Bay Rays will be out to end a four-game losing streak Saturday afternoon when they play the Toronto Blue Jays in the second game of a three-game series at Buffalo.

The Blue Jays won the series-opener 11-1 Friday night to stop their losses at two straight.

The Rays, who have lost 11 of their past 15 games, will try to stop their pitching woes of the past two games. They lost their previous game 15-6 to the Washington Nationals.

The Rays did not get a hit Friday until the sixth inning against Toronto’s rookie right-hander Alek Manoah, who allowed three hits and no runs in seven innings and struck out a career-best 10. He also struck out a franchise-record seven straight batters.

The Rays have lost nine straight on the road.

To preserve the bullpen on Friday, Rays manager Kevin Cash enlisted outfielder Brett Phillips to pitch the eighth inning. Phillips allowed a run on two singles and two walks.

The Blue Jays had two-run homers from George Springer and Vladimir Guerrero Jr. and a solo shot by Marcus Semien.

It was the first game as the No. 4 hitter for Springer, who had been batting fifth since his return from the injured list on June 21.

“I was waiting for him to get hot, let him get going, get him at-bats, get him to be comfortable,” Blue Jays manager Charlie Montoyo said. “And now watching him have good at-bats, I said okay now is the perfect timing to hit him cleanup behind (Guerrero).”

The Rays will start left-hander Shane McClanahan (3-2, 4.09 ERA) against Blue Jays right-hander Ross Stripling (3-4, 4.27) on Saturday.

McClanahan will make his second career start against Toronto. He allowed one run in five innings May 22 at Dunedin, Fla., and did not factor in the decision.

Stripling pitched seven scoreless innings in relief against the Rays on May 14, allowing two hits and two walks. He struck out seven. He has not allowed a run in four career games covering 13 innings against Tampa Bay.

Rays shortstop Wander Franco, a 20-year-old who has been rated as baseball’s top prospect, was 1-for-4 Friday. After being promoted to the majors on June 22, he is batting .200 (7-for-35). He has reached base safely in seven of his nine games and has a double, a home run and five RBIs.

He is still adjusting to major league pitching.

“At this level, I think it’s the location,” Franco said. “They just are able to locate a lot more consistently.”

Some of his outs have been hit hard.

“That’s a little bit of part of the game,” he added. “I don’t think it’s bad luck. Sometimes you hit the ball hard, you don’t get a hit. Sometimes you hit the ball soft, and you get lucky. I just think it’s … trusting yourself and going out there and competing.”

“I’ve seen a really good player,” Cash said. “Hasn’t got the results, maybe, that everybody wants to see. But if you look back, take a step back and recognize, appreciate how hard he’s hit the ball — it seems like he’s hitting at least two balls a night right on the screws and doesn’t have a ton to show for it yet. We are really confident that those hits are coming.”

–Field Level Media

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