Sports Baseball

On Deck: Rays at Blue Jays

By Donald Duench, Toronto Sun

Tampa Bay Rays shortstop Adeiny Hechavarria forces Milwaukee Brewers' Eric Sogard (18) at second base and turns a double play on Travis Shaw during the eighth inning Aug. 6, 2017, in St. Petersburg, Fla. (CHRIS O'MEARA/AP)

Tampa Bay Rays shortstop Adeiny Hechavarria forces Milwaukee Brewers' Eric Sogard (18) at second base and turns a double play on Travis Shaw during the eighth inning Aug. 6, 2017, in St. Petersburg, Fla. (CHRIS O'MEARA/AP)

TAMPA BAY RAYS at TORONTO BLUE JAYS

Probable starting pitchers

MONDAY 7:07 p.m.
RHP Jake Odorizzi (6-5, 4.38 ERA) vs. RHP Nick Tepesch (0-2, 9.00 ERA)
Odorizzi came off the DL on Aug.  9 — and almost went back on it after a comebacker hit his right foot that day. He needed 90 pitches to get through four-plus innings against Boston before leaving.

TUESDAY 7:07 p.m.
LHP Blake Snell (0-6, 4.69 ERA) vs. RHP Marco Estrada (5-7, 4.85 ERA)
Snell is back in the bigs to fill in for the injured Alex Cobb. He allowed only one run in 6.1 innings in his last start, a no-decision vs. Cleveland.

WEDNESDAY 7:07 p.m.
RHP Jacob Faria (5-3, 3.19 ERA) vs. RHP Marcus Stroman (10-6, 3.00 ERA)
Faria has losses in his past two starts, but still has a WHIP of 1.17 and an opponents’ batting average of .222. In his last start, he retired the first 12 batters he faced.

THURSDAY 4:07 p.m.
RHP Chris Archer (8-7, 3.84 ERA) vs. RHP Chris Rowley (1-0, 1.69 ERA)
Archer had thrown at least six innings in each of his past 15 starts before going only 5.1 against Cleveland on Saturday. He will be wearing “Flaco Fuerte” (Skinny and Strong) on his back during Players’ Weekend.
 

TOP 3 STORYLINES

1. Trouble in Tampa
The Rays arrive in Toronto after a 2-7 home stand against Milwaukee, Boston, and Cleveland, which dropped them under .500 for the first time since June 7. The Rays were shut out in five of the first eight games before falling 4-3 to Cleveland on Sunday. At the plate, the Rays were 47 for 276 (.170) and scored only 11 runs in the nine games. 1B Lucas Duda, acquired before the non-waiver trade deadline to provide some pop, had a 4-for-26 (.154) home stand. The Rays were two games out of first in the AL East on July 19, but now don’t even have a wild-card spot.

2. Colome reliable, but rested
Rays reliever Alex Colome has 34 saves — tied with Greg Holland for the MLB lead — in 39 save opportunities this season. However, Tampa Bay’s slump has resulted in him pitching in only one game since Aug. 3.

3. Kiermaier’s progress
OF Kevin Kiermaier remains on the 60-day DL after suffering a right hip fracture in early June. He was on a rehab assignment late last month, but suffered back tightness. He resumed the rehab assignment Saturday, and while he isn’t expected to be with the Rays in this series, the Blue Jays might face him in St. Petersburg Aug. 22-24.
 

PLAYERS TO WATCH

C Raffy Lopez, Blue Jays
Until Miguel Montero is ready to return, Lopez and Mike Ohlman are  responsible for handling Toronto’s pitchers, including recent callups Nick Tepesch and Chris Rowley.

SS Adeiny Hechavarria, Rays
With the division rival Rays acquiring the Cuban infielder from the Marlins on June 26, the Blue Jays will see a lot more of their former prospect — and his highlight-reel defensive plays.

 

DUENCH'S TAKE

Red Sox, White Sox, blue socks, two socks ... Did you know that both the Rays and Jays gave out team-themed blue socks as a promotion on Sunday? Two wins, to match the socks, for each team in this series.