The Toronto Blue Jays and Tampa Bay Rays square off in Game 1 of a three-game series Tuesday night at Tropicana Field
Toronto Blue Jays at Tampa Bay Rays
Toronto finished the month of April with a club-record 30 stolen bases, cruising past the previous record of 27 set in 1983 and 1984. It’s a surprising stat when considering the team led the league in home runs last season, but new manager John Farrell has an aggressive style. “This is still a hit-first organization and we want to maintain that,” Farrell stated. “We want to support that approach with a more diverse approach on the basepaths. This is an added weapon.” One major player in the offense continues to be outfielder Jose Bautista, who is leading the majors with a .530 on-base percentage, while reaching base safely in 24 of his 25 games this season. Toronto is 7-10 in road games this year.
Blue Jays starting pitcher Jo-Jo Reyes is 0-2 with a 5.48 ERA in five starts this season, as the team has produced a 2-3 record over that span. The left-hander is 0-2 with a 3.55 ERA in three road outings, surrendering 18 hits in just 12.2 innings of work. Tuesday’s outing is important in staying in the rotation, as he could be just a start away from leaving the ball club. “I think it’s an important one. I think he could probably agree with that, as well,” Farrell stated. Reyes has made just a single start against the Rays, allowing four runs and six hits over seven innings at home on April 22.
Tampa Bay has won six of its last eight games and is 15-7 since starting the season with an 0-6 mark. The Rays are 7-9 at Tropicana Field this season, but their 165 home wins since 2008 are the second-most in the majors during that span. Expect a rejuvenated club in tonight’s game with the anticipated return of All-Star third baseman Evan Longoria, who has been out with a strained left oblique since the second game of the season. “Obviously you’re missing an All-Star player – a Sliver Slugger guy, a gold glove guy,” said manager Joe Maddon. “You’re miss all that stuff.” Tampa Bay is 3-0 when playing with a day off.
Rays starting pitcher Wade Davis is 3-2 with a 2.73 ERA in five starts this season, allowing just a single home run in 33.0 innings of work. The right-hander will be making his fourth career start versus the Blue Jays, bringing in a 2-1 record and 2.49 ERA, allowing them to hit just .238 in the process. Davis is also a perfect 3-0 with a 1.74 ERA at night this season compared to an 0-2 mark and 4.38 ERA during the day.
Bettors will likely back The Rays due to their 5-2 record versus left-handed starters, while the Blue Jays are 1-4 versus the American League East.