The Tampa Bay Rays are going for their seventh consecutive victory on Sunday afternoon when they play host to the Toronto Blue Jays at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg.
After losing the first two games of its three-game series last weekend in Buffalo, N.Y., Tampa Bay won the finale against the Blue Jays and has not lost since then and have outscored their opponent 38-13 in the process.
In the first two games of this series, Tampa Bay has outscored Toronto 12-3 including Saturday’s 5-2 win.
The Rays are going for their ninth series sweep of the season and second straight. Tampa Bay is coming off a three-game sweep against visiting Cleveland.
Sunday’s game will be the last before the All-Star break. Tampa Bay starts the second half of the season Friday in Atlanta; the Blue Jays return to Buffalo to play host to Texas.
Tampa Bay is getting it done with its bats and its pitching. Not only are the Rays getting solid starts, but their bullpen has now worked 18 consecutive scoreless innings, including nine against the Jays this series.
“Teams are built differently,” Tampa Bay manager Kevin Cash said. “Our team is built as much to score runs as it is to prevent runs. We are seeing that right now with the really good pitching, outstanding defense and really big hits.”
On Sunday, the Rays will go with lefty Rich Hill (6-3, 3.65 ERA) as he faces Toronto for the first time since 2016 while with Oakland. In that game, he only lasted five pitches and was forced out of the game with a blister.
Overall, Hill is 1-1 with a 4.76 ERA in 22 2/3 innings against Toronto, including four starts.
In his last start, Hill took a no-decision Monday against Cleveland after allowing one run in 3 2/3 innings pitched. It was his shortest stint since going three innings against Houston on May 2.
Toronto will start Robbie Ray (6-4, 3.36) who gave the Jays another fine start despite taking the loss last Sunday against Tampa Bay in Buffalo.
In what turned into a 5-1 loss, Ray went seven innings, giving up two runs off five hits with six strikeouts.
The seven innings last week marked the longest Ray had gone in a game since May 22 – although he has been giving Toronto quality starts for much of the season.
Ray has limited his walks after leading baseball with 45 (7.8 per nine innings) last season.
Since walking nine in his first two starts of the season, Ray has only walked 14 in his past 14 games.
This will be Ray’s fourth start of the season against Tampa Bay. He is 0-1 but has given up just six runs on 16 hits over 20 innings, walking two and striking out 22.
“He’s one of our best pitchers for sure. My trust is there, it doesn’t matter how many pitches he’s at,” Toronto manager Charlie Montoyo said.
“For some reason, the longer he’s in the outing and the looser he gets, he starts throwing harder and better. …He has earned my trust.”
–Field Level Media