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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 seven.

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

Scoreboard
Local
Final
CAR 1
BOS 2
Final
DUKE 66
GONZ 52
Final
PHI 4
DET 4
Final
WAS 11
MIA 7
Final
BAL 5
MIN 6
Final
STL 2
NYM 3
Final
HOU 0
NYY 7
Final
ATL 2
PIT 4
Final
BOS 3
TAM 2
Final
TOR 2
BAL 4
Final
ANA 6
CIN 8
Final
KAN 0
CHC 7
Final
CLE 1
CWS 4
Final
SFG 11
LOS 9
Final
OAK 7
MIL 0
Final
SDP 8
SEA 5
Final
LOS 10
TEX 5
Final
COL 2
ARI 1
Final
ARI 10
COL 11
Final
WAS 91
HOU 99
Final
BRK 107
LAL 99
Final
NOP 110
MIN 88
Final
CLE 87
PHI 86
Final
MIA 109
DET 102
Final
BOS 106
LAC 119
Final
IND 104
DAL 99
Final
SAN 103
MEM 89
3rd
PHO 71
OKC 71
 
Final
LOU 70
MSU 76
Final
DUKE 66
GONZ 52
Final
NYR 2
WAS 5
Final
CAR 1
BOS 2
Final
NAS 2
CAL 5
Final
NYI 5
DET 4
Final
OTT 2
FLA 4
Final
NJD 1
ANA 2
Final
WIN 3
CHI 4
Final
PIT 3
SJS 2