The Toronto Blue Jays try to move up in the AL East standings when they take on the host Tampa Bay Rays in the first of a three-game series on Friday night. First pitch of the series opener is scheduled for 7:10 p.m. ET at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Fla.
Toronto snapped a three-game losing streak with a win over Boston on Wednesday, splitting a brief two-game series with the Red Sox. The Blue Jays are 8-10 on the season and tied with Baltimore for third place in the AL East, three games behind first-place Boston.
Tampa Bay is second in the AL East standings with a 10-9 record, putting it 1½ games behind the Red Sox. The Rays had won five straight before falling to Kansas City, 9-8, in the finale of their three-game series on Wednesday.
Tampa Bay is the favorite in this game, according to the MLB odds, which have it with a -150 moneyline. Toronto is at +135, with the over/under set at seven runs.
Left-hander Steven Matz makes his fourth start of the season in this one for Toronto, having put together a 3-0 record with a 1.47 ERA so far. Matz has pitched 18 1/3 innings over his first three starts, allowing a total of three earned runs and nine hits while striking out 18 and walking six. He gave up just two hits and one run over six innings in his latest outing, a win over Kansas City last Saturday.
The Toronto lineup is stacked, and that’s without offseason acquisition George Springer, who has yet to play a game this season as he deals with two strained muscles. He’s getting closer, which will bring an experienced bat to an already powerful group.
Shortstop Bo Bichette has a team-high five home runs this season and is one of three Blue Jays with 12 RBI to lead the team. Bichette also has four doubles and is batting .292 with 14 runs scored.
Vladimir Guerrero Jr. is one of those three players with 12 RBI, as he is batting .383 with four doubles and four home runs. Randal Grichuk also has 12 RBI and is batting .306 with four doubles.
Continuing To Succeed
It seems like every offseason, the Rays deal away a big-name player — this year it was pitcher Blake Snell — but every season, Tampa Bay continues to contend. The offense is still putting up runs, ranking second in the American League with 94 through 19 games.
Third baseman Joey Wendle, who has never had more than seven home runs in a season, has three this season, along with a team-high 15 RBI. Wendle is batting .365 and also has seven doubles (tied for second in baseball) and has scored a team-high 16 times.
Designated hitter Austin Meadows has a team-best four home runs as well as five doubles, while left fielder Randy Arozarena has started to heat up, batting .279 and hitting three doubles and two home runs.
On the mound for this one will be right-hander Tyler Glasnow making his fifth start of the season. The 27-year-old is 2-0 with a 0.73 ERA, allowing just two earned runs in 24 2/3 innings of work. He has wins in his last two starts, and his 36 strikeouts are tied for the fifth-most in baseball.
Rays Take Opener
Glasnow has been outstanding on the mound this season, with his ERA ranking second in baseball among pitchers with four starts. He’ll be able to get the free-swinging Blue Jays — who have eight players with double-digit strikeouts this season — to miss the ball more often than not.
Toronto has the potential to be a top offensive team, but against Glasnow, it will have trouble getting runs on the board. Matz will keep things close, but when doing your MLB betting, go with the Rays to win the opener.