The Tampa Bay Rays try to increase their American League East lead when they face the Toronto Blue Jays in the last of a three-game series between division rivals on Wednesday. The series finale is scheduled for a 3:07 p.m. ET first pitch at Rogers Centre in Toronto.
The Rays snapped a two-game losing streak with Tuesday’s 2-0 win. Tampa Bay is 90-55 and in first place in the AL East, nine games ahead of the Blue Jays, New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox.
Tuesday’s loss snapped a four-game winning streak for the Blue Jays, who have won 12 of their last 14 contests. Toronto is 81-64 and tied for second place in the AL East with New York and Boston. Those three teams are also tied at the top of the AL Wild Card standings.
The Rays became the first American League team to reach 90 wins, the eighth time in 14 seasons the team has won that many games. The defending AL champions are looking like a good bet to repeat this season.
Tampa Bay reached 90 wins by shutting out one of the hottest offenses in baseball, which is the kind of thing that will win games in October.
“To go out there and see how well our pitching staff did, and then also as well as our defense played, I think that really gives our team a lot of confidence. We can match up with anyone, the best of them,” Rays pitcher Drew Rasmussen said after picking up the win on Tuesday. “We have a ton of confidence in our guys and in our clubhouse. If we just go out and we take care of business on our end, we’re going to be in a good position here in a couple weeks.”
Ji-Man Choi and Brandon Lowe each had solo home runs. Lowe has 34 home runs, including six against the Blue Jays.
Right-hander Michael Wacha will get the start for Wednesday’s game. He is 3-4 with a 5.37 ERA in 20 starts and 25 total appearances.
Wacha’s only start against Toronto as two shutout innings on May 23 as he allowed just one hit and struck out one. In two starts in September, Wacha is 1-0 with a 2.45 ERA, including five innings against Detroit on Friday in which he allowed one run on three hits, including a home run.
Still in It
The loss on Tuesday made things a little tighter in the AL Wild Card race. The Blue Jays need to keep earning wins if they want to stay in one of the two spots and they have a mixed bag remaining on their schedule. While 10 of their games are against the non-contending Minnesota Twins and Baltimore Orioles, the Blue Jays also have another three-game series with the Rays and one against the Yankees.
Left-hander Robbie Ray will be on the mound for the series finale. Ray is 11-5 with a 2.69 ERA, including a 1-1 record and 2.00 ERA in four starts against Tampa Bay.
Ray has won his last three decisions, with his last loss coming on July 21. In his last outing, he took a no-decision, going 4.1 innings against Baltimore on Friday and allowing three runs on eight hits, including two home runs, in a 6-3 Toronto loss.
The Blue Jays had scored 52 runs over their previous four games before being shut out on Tuesday on just three hits. Vladimir Guerrero Jr. was 0-for-4 in the contest, ending his seven-game hit streak. Guerrero is batting .220 against the Rays this season, hitting two doubles and six home runs and driving in 11 runs.
Blue Jays Take Series
The Toronto offense has been red hot of late and it’s hard to picture it being shut down for a second straight game. Ray should be able to keep Tampa Bay in check and allow his team to take two out of three in this series.
When doing your MLB picks, take Toronto to win at home.