Rays-Blue Jays Preview
Now that he's moved past a lengthy slump, Mark Buehrle will try to help the Toronto Blue Jays continue their playoff push while setting a franchise record on the mound.
The Blue Jays made certain he'd have an opportune matchup by pitting him against the Tampa Bay Rays.
As Toronto seeks its sixth straight win over the Rays when he starts, Buehrle looks to lead the club's rotation to a franchise-best 20th straight outing of at least six innings in Sunday's series finale.
Although their offense has led them for much of the season, the Blue Jays (77-70) have gotten a 2.19 ERA from their starters during a 10-3 run that's helped them remain in the mix for an AL wild-card spot.
R.A. Dickey provided the latest solid effort Saturday, allowing three runs over seven innings in a 6-3 victory that evened up the home set with Tampa Bay. The knuckleballer gave Toronto its 19th consecutive start of at least six innings, matching the team's longest such run set in 1998.
''The rotation is on some kind of roll,'' manager John Gibbons said.
Buehrle (12-9, 3.31 ERA) hopes to break that mark while building on his second straight strong performance. He allowed two runs and scattered 10 hits over seven innings in Tuesday's 9-2 home win over the Chicago Cubs.
The left-hander had been 1-7 with a 5.15 ERA over his previous 14 starts before throwing eight shutout innings at Tampa Bay on Sept. 4.
He's swapping rotation spots with rookie Marcus Stroman, who will get some extra rest and pitch Monday's series opener at AL East-leading Baltimore. The move gives Buehrle another look at the Rays after going 2-0 with a 2.08 ERA in his first five meetings this season - all Toronto victories.
The 35-year-old has allowed three earned runs while working into the seventh inning in two home starts versus Tampa Bay.
The Rays' Ben Zobrist and Evan Longoria finished with two hits apiece Saturday, including Longoria's 21st home run. The three-time All-Star has three homers in his last six games, but is 3 for 14 with no extra-base hits versus Buehrle this season.
The Rays (71-78) have struggled offensively overall of late, averaging 2.9 runs while hitting .223 in their last 13 games.
Chris Archer (9-8, 3.63) surrendered 14 runs and 20 hits over 10 innings while losing two consecutive starts - including one versus Toronto - before bouncing back Tuesday.
The right-hander gave up three runs over 6 1-3 innings in a 4-3 win at Yankee Stadium.
"He's a young man with great ability," manager Joe Maddon told MLB's official website. "He's still learning."
Archer is 1-1 with a 4.80 ERA in five starts versus Toronto this season, but he's allowed only three runs over 13 innings in two meetings at Rogers Centre. In his most recent matchup, he surrendered six runs over six innings in a 7-4 home loss Sept. 3.
Adam Lind snapped a career-worst 36-game homerless streak Saturday and is 10 for 20 in his last six games. He's 5 for 10 with three doubles when facing Archer this season.
Edwin Encarnacion hit his 31st home run Saturday, but he's just 3 for 18 with two homers lifetime in the matchup.