American League Preview from The Sports Network|
Friday, July 11
(All times eastern)
Toronto Blue Jays (48-45) at Tampa Bay Rays (42-52), 7:10 p.m.
Probable Starting Pitchers: Toronto - Mark Buehrle (10-6, 2.60)
Tampa Bay - Chris Archer (5-5, 3.16)
(SportsNetwork.com) - The Toronto Blue Jays will try to right the ship Friday
night when they enter Tropicana Field to kick off a three-game set with the
Tampa Bay Rays.
Toronto shared the American League East lead with Baltimore just over a week
ago and held a six-game lead as recently as June 6. But while the Orioles have
continued stringing together wins, the Blue Jays have lost six of their last
They got a much needed day off Thursday after coughing up a pair of leads in
an 8-7 loss to the Angels a day earlier. Reliever Aaron Loup served up the go-
ahead homer to Albert Pujols in the seventh inning, breaking Loup's streak of
59 straight relief appearances without giving up a homer.
"We (gave) away a good opportunity," manager John Gibbons said. "We had the
lead, coughed it up, took a slim lead. It was disappointing, it really was."
Starter Marcus Stroman was chased after yielding six runs (five earned) in
only 3 2/3 innings.
Meanwhile, Tampa Bay had won eight of nine on the road before returning home
to face Kansas City for a three-game set this week. However, the Rays lost
that series after the Royals rallied for a 5-4 victory on Wednesday.
Rays right fielder Kevin Kiermaier belted his first career grand slam in the
fourth inning to erase a two-run deficit. However, that was also the last time
Tampa Bay scored in the game. In the top of the ninth, reliever Kirby Yates
gave up the decisive three-run homer to All-Star Salvador Perez.
Tampa Bay was just 3-for-18 with runners in scoring position during the
three-game series, including 1-for-9 on Wednesday.
"I understand we lost by a run on a three-run homer in the ninth inning,"
manager Joe Maddon said. "But we left a lot of chicken on the bone and you
just can't do that stuff."
Maddon will hand the ball to Chris Archer to start Friday's series opener. The
right-hander is coming off his deepest outing of the season at Detroit on
Saturday, as he went 8 1/3 innings and gave up two runs on six hits to earn
his fifth win.
"It was my best game so far (this season), but there is room to grow," he
said. "I'm going to continue to execute pitches better."
Archer has thrown seven or more innings in each of his last three starts.
Taking the mound for Toronto is veteran southpaw Mark Buehrle, who has lost
his last five decisions despite a 3.60 ERA over that span. Buehrle's last win
was back on June 1, although he is 10-1 when the Blue Jays give him two or
more runs of support.
Toronto has won five of the seven head-to-head meetings between these two
teams this season. This marks the final series before the All-Star break.
07/11 10:51:01 ET