It would be safe to say that Chris Archer needed a win Sunday. His last few starts — sandwiched between an excellent start against the Orioles on the seventh — left a lot to be desired. Archer seemed to be a bit over amped, and hadn’t been nearly as efficient as most knew he could, and should, have been. Archer quelled the fears of many a Rays fan Sunday, putting together an excellent 6 IP/6 H/1 R/1 ER/1 BB/4 K outing, leading the charge in a 3-1 victory against the Yankees. The Rays will use the accrued momentum when they return to the Trop Monday to take on the charging Toronto Blue Jays.
The Blue Jays are finally living up to the expectations placed upon them to start the season. Currently in the throes of an 11-game win streak, Toronto has matched the team record set in 1987 and equaled in 1998. They’ve consistently produced at the plate during their run, averaging 6.4 runs per game while hitting 20 homers and batting .343 with runners in scoring position. The Rays, on the other hand, are coming off a disappointing 3-4 road trip against the Red Sox and Yankees; a road trip where they easily should have won six games. Tampa Bay was held to four runs or fewer on four different occasions, while the bullpen regressed in a manner of speaking, giving up six runs in two games resulting in a pair of losses.
I don’t want to give the impression that the most recent road trip was filled with doom and gloom. On the contrary, the bats came to life once more while Jeremy Hellickson, Matt Moore, and Roberto Hernandez put together turnaround performances. Furthermore, Wil Myers started to show his worth after plating six runs and crossing the plate twice, and Alex Torres pitched well in four innings against the Yankees and Red Sox, allowing only three base runners and striking out four.
Whatever the case, this should be an interesting series. The Rays have owned the Blue Jays’ rotation this season, compiling a 6.97 ERA in seven games. Third baseman Evan Longoria has done the most damage, going 14-for-28 with two homers, seven doubles and 10 RBIs. And Hellickson has yielded five runs and 10 hits in 13 innings in two starts against the Blue Jays this season.
Esmil Rogers: Per Rotowire, “Rogers went 6.2 innings Tuesday, allowing three runs (two earned) on four hits and a walk to go with five strikeouts, picking up the win against the Rockies.” Rogers is 2-0 with a 1.71 ERA in four starts this season. Tampa Bay has posted a paltry .200 BA/.281 OBP/.340 SLG/.621 slash line against Rogers, with only a few players putting together moderately good numbers in his time as a reliever. Key match-ups: Yunel Escobar (1-3), Desmond Jennings (1-4, HR), Desmond Jennings (5-18, 2B, HR, 2 RBI), Ben Zobrist (1-2).
Mark Buehrle: Per Rotowire, “Buehrle improved to 4-4 Wednesday, giving up just two earned runs on eight hits over five innings, while walking one and striking out four against the Rockies.” The Rays beat the Blue Jays in the last two meetings with Buehrle on the mound. They also continue to put up good numbers against Buehrle, with seven players posting a .250 BA or greater against him. Key match-ups: Yunel Escobar (4-11, 2B, RBI, BB), Sam Fuld (1-3), Kelly Johnson (3-12, RBI), James Loney (3-12, 2 2B), Evan Longoria (6-20, 2 2B, HR, 4 RBI, BB), Jose Molina (10-30, 2B, HR, 2 RBI, 2 BB), Sean Rodriguez (5-13, 2 2B, RBI).
RA Dickey: Per Rotowire, “Dickey (back) gave up just one run on seven hits and three walks, while striking out three over 5.2 innings, in a win over the Rangers on Saturday.” Key match-ups: Kelly Johnson (2-7, 2B, BB), Evan Longoria (3-9, 2 2B, 3 RBI, BB).
- Edwin Encarnacion homered and had four RBIs in Toronto’s 13-5 win over Baltimore on Sunday.
- Encarnacion is hitting .350 with four homers and 12 RBIs over the Jays 11-game winning streak, while Adam Lind is batting .341 – also with four homers and 12 RBIs.
- Jose Bautista is 3-for-4 with a homer in the last two meetings against Hellickson, while improving to 7-for-15 with two homers, one double and one triple lifetime in match-ups against the Rays RHP. He’s also batting .440 (11 for 25) with two homers, three doubles and nine RBIs against Tampa Bay this season.
- The Jays haven’t won a series at the Trop since April 2007, nor have they won a season series since 2006. Tampa Bay leads the series 139-125 overall, and have gone 79-52 at the Trop. However, the Jays lead the season series 4-3.
- Per Marc Topkin,
“After massively underachieving for the first six weeks, the chic-pick Jays began to warm in mid May and are now sizzling, on Sunday winning their team record-tying 11th straight game and 15th of 18. The key has been the improved performance of their pitching staff, both starters and relievers, as they lead the majors in team ERA since June 13. Having Jose Bautista and Edwin Encarnacion in the middle of the lineup helps, and Adam Lind has stepped up as well. Plus, they should get SS Jose Reyes back from the DL soon. Still out are LHP J.A. Happ (who was hit in the head by a ball at the Trop on May 7), RHP Brandon Morrow and 3B Brett Lawrie.”
- Brandon Gomes, out since early May with a lat strain, will begin what is expected to be a 7-10 day rehab assignment Monday by starting for the advanced Class A Stone Crabs in Port Charlotte.
- For those of you who missed it, Principal owner Stuart Sternberg said in a recent interview with Jon Paul Morosi and Fox Sports, it’s “Very unrealistic” that the Rays will leave the Tampa Bay area, at least if it’s up to him. He went on to say ,”The decision can be taken out” of his hands by MLB — and he hopes serious work on the stadium issue in St. Petersburg will commence at the end of the season. He also noted, Montreal is “An incredible place for baseball,” in the same interview. So uh, yeah…