Watching Mo’s last outing at Yankee Stadium almost brought a tear to my cold, grizzled, Rays loving heart. He is a classy guy, and the Evil Empire really did an outstanding job handling his last 1-1/3 inning of work in the Bronx. That said, the Rays have now won 90 games for the fourth consecutive year (fifth out of six) while sweeping the Yankees in that Mall of America like baseball stadium for the first time in their 15 year career. Furthermore, Tampa Bay is riding high on a huge wave of momentum after sweeping two consecutive series, this time outscoring the Yankees 19-3. The pitching was outstanding, the Rays were able to mash the all important timely hits, and Tampa Bay looks primed for the postseason. Next stop Toronto, for the final three game series of the regular season. Tampa Bay Rays are hot at just the right time. Holding a one-game lead atop Cleveland for home-field advantage in the one-game wild-card playoff, their destiny is in their hands with three games left to play. Meanwhile, eight players from the Jays’ opening-day roster are finishing the season on the disabled list — not so good for a team projected to win an obscene amount of games in 2013.
RA Dickey: Per Rotowire, “Dickey pitched a complete game Sunday, yet he gave up five runs on six hits with an 11:1 K:BB ratio in eight innings in Boston.” The Rays have taken the Blue Jays the last two times Dickey has been on the mound. However, that doesn’t make the task of facing the knuckleballer any easier. Tampa Bay was able to touch Dickey for four runs in seven innings of work back on August 16th, and they’ll look to do the same Friday. Key match-ups: Kelly Johnson (4-12, 2 2B, HR, RBI, 2 BB), Jose Lobaton (3-12, 2B, RBI), Delmon Young (2-6).
JA Happ: Per Rotowire, “Happ took the loss Monday night, allowing three runs on eight hits over five innings against the White Sox.” Happ was outstanding against the Rays back in August, relinquishing two runs on five hits while ringing up five, in 5-1/3 innings of work. Though he’s been fairly consistent since, the Blue Jays have gone 1-6 with Happ on the mound in his last seven outings. Key match-ups: Yunel Escobar (3-11, 2B, RBI, BB), Desmond Jennings (3-5, 2B, 3B, 2 RBI), Jose Lobaton (1-2, 2B), James Loney (5-9, 2B, RBI, BB), Evan Longoria (4-7, 2 2B, RBI, BB), Sean Rodriguez (2-6, 2B, RBI, 2 BB), Delmon Young (1-4), Ben Zobrist (3-6, 2 2B, 3 RBI, 3 BB).
Todd Redmond: Per Rotowire, “Redmond gave up two earned runs on eight hits and two walks with two strikeouts in 5.2 innings Tuesday in Baltimore.” Redmond was very good in his first start start against the Rays, going six innings and relinquishing just one run on six hits. And with the exception of his outing against the Astros, the St. Petersburg native has been pretty good, relinquishing 2.2 runs per game (on average) over the course of ten appearances. Key match-ups: Yunel Escobar (2-3, 2B), Matt Joyce (1-3, 2B), James Loney (1-3), Evan Longoria (2-2, 2B, HR, RBI).
- Jeremy Hellickson has fared well against Toronto in his career, boasting a 5-2 record with a 2.90 ERA over 11 starts.
- Tampa Bay has outscored opponents 37-13 during its winning streak.
- The Rays lead the season series 10-6.
- Per Marc Topkin, “Since warming up Monday and not being used as the game situation changed, Crain has been unavailable the past three nights because of recurring issues with his shoulder, which had sidelined him since late June.” There really isn’t a clear indication that he’ll be playoff ready. The question begs: If he hasn’t pitched in a game since June, shoulder strain or not, how ready would he be for the playoffs.
- So, this happened:
- There are 64 possible combinations of Rays/CLE/TEX wins/losses this weekend. Regardless, if the Rays win two games, they’ll host a Wildcard game no matter what other the two do.<\li>
- Tickets for a potential American League Wild Card Game at Tropicana Field, currently scheduled for Wednesday, Oct. 2, will go on sale to the general public on Friday, Sept. 27 at 1 p.m. ET exclusively at Raysbaseball.com. If tickets are remaining on Tuesday, Oct. 1, they will be available for purchase through all Rays ticket outlets including the Tropicana Field Box Office, Rays Tampa Store (located at 400 N. Tampa Street in Downtown Tampa), all Ticketmaster locations and by calling 1-888-FAN-RAYS starting at 10 a.m. ET.