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AL East Rivals Tangle in Buffalo

The Tampa Bay Rays try to avoid a fourth straight loss when they take on the Toronto Blue Jays in the first of a three-game weekend series between AL East rivals on Friday night. The first pitch is scheduled for 7:07 pm ET at Sahien Field in Buffalo, NY.

Tampa Bay is coming off a two-game sweep by the Washington Nationals, including a 15-6 loss in the series finale. The Rays are 47-34 and in second place in the AL East, trailing the first-place Boston Red Sox by 3½ games and leading the third-place Blue Jays by five games.

Kevin Hoffman/Getty Images/AFP

Toronto is also on a losing streak, dropping the final two games of its series with the Seattle Mariners. The Blue Jays fell to 41-38 with Thursday’s loss to Seattle and in third place in the AL East, leading the fourth-place New York Yankees by a half-game.

MLB odds have the Blue Jays with a moneyline of -108, while the Rays are listed at -102. The over/under has been set at 10 runs.

Coming Back

Right-hander Luis Patino will get the start for the Rays. The 21-year-old is 1-1 with a 3.60 ERA, striking out 19 and walking four in 15 innings.

Patino has been pitching for the Rays’ Triple-A club since coming off the injured list due to a cut on his middle finger. He’ll be called up for this start after pitching 17 straight shutout innings.

Catcher Mike Zunino has been the hottest hitter for the Rays of late, hitting four home runs over the last five games, including one in each of the two games against Washington. The 30-year-old is batting .210 but leading the Rays with 18 home runs. He’s driven in 36 runs and scored 30 times in 55 games.

Designated hitter Austin Meadows leads Tampa Bay with 54 RBIs, hitting a team-high 20 doubles, one triple, and 16 home runs while scoring 48 times. Outfielder Randy Arozarena has contributed 14 doubles, a triple, 10 home runs, 40 RBIs, and a team-best 49 runs scored.

Home Away From Home

The Blue Jays continue to play away from their true home at Rogers Centre in Toronto, and definitely miss the home-field advantage that venue gives them. Toronto is 17-19 as the home team this season, and Thursday — which was Canada Day — was especially difficult for the team to be outside of the country.

“We miss Toronto every day, but this is one of those days where it would be great to be in Toronto, seeing all the red and the full house,” Toronto manager Charlie Montoyo said after Thursday’s loss. “Buffalo’s been great to us, don’t get me wrong. But today’s one of those days where we really miss Toronto.”

The Blue Jays will have right-hander Alek Manoah on the mound, with the 23-year-old trying to improve his 1-0 record and 3.34 ERA. Manoah has made six starts at the major-league level, striking out 33 and walking 11 in 29⅔ innings.

Manoah didn’t earn a decision in five June starts, the latest coming June 25 against Baltimore. In that game, Manoah went six innings and allowed just one unearned run on four hits, striking out six and walking two.

Designated hitter Vladimir Guerrero Jr. was 0-of-3 in Thursday’s loss, his second straight hitless game. Guerrero is third with a .336 batting average and is tied for second in home runs with 26. He is also second in RBIs with 66 and runs scored with 64.

Guerrero trails teammate Bo Bichette in the runs race, as the Toronto shortstop has scored 66 times. He also has 17 doubles, a triple, 15 home runs, and 54 RBI while batting .287.

Second baseman Marcus Semien is tied for fifth in runs scored with 60. He’s also tied for sixth in baseball with 20 home runs while driving in 52 runs.

Blue Jays Win Opener

The Rays are having some trouble, and the Blue Jays have a lineup that can do damage against a young pitcher. Manoah is young as well, but he’s shown a lot in his brief time at the major league level.

When doing your MLB betting, take Toronto to get the win at home.

Pick: Toronto Blue Jays -108

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