Rays-Blue Jays Preview
An offensive surge has the Tampa Bay Rays in position to sweep a three-game road set from the struggling Toronto Blue Jays.
Looking to maintain that production, the Rays can accomplish the feat by handing the Blue Jays a fifth straight loss Wednesday night.
A night after pounding out a season-high 17 hits in Monday's 13-2 rout of Toronto (19-22), Tampa Bay matched that total with a 12-2 victory. The Rays (18-19), who last swept a series at Toronto in July 2013, scored at least 10 in three consecutive games against Baltimore from Aug. 29-31, 2008.
"Guys are not trying to do too much," said first baseman Logan Morrison, who is 3 for 6 in two games. "We're taking advantage of the pitches that we're getting."
Steve Pearce is 4 for 7 with four RBIs in the series while Steven Souza Jr. is batting .324 in nine games against the Blue Jays in 2015.
Toronto starters have an 11.07 ERA and walked 11 in four games since R.A. Dickey (2-4, 4.31 ERA) allowed three hits in eight innings of Friday's 5-0 victory at Texas.
"He was tremendous," said manager John Gibbons, who began serving his one-game suspension for his role in Sunday's brawl with the Rangers. "That was as good as I've seen him."
The right-hander went 1-3 with a 6.75 ERA in his first five starts but is 1-1 with a 1.27 ERA in the last three. Dickey yielded a solo homer to Souza and two other runs over five-plus innings of a 5-3 win at Tampa Bay on April 4.
Souza is 3 for 8 with that home run against Dickey.
Appealing a one-game suspension for his part - most notably taking a punch to the jaw - in Sunday's fight, Jose Bautista belted a two-run homer in the first inning.
"I think I have good enough reasons," said Bautista, hitting .320 with two home runs and five RBIs in nine games against the Rays this season. "I'm not just appealing it for the sake of appealing it."
He is 1 for 17 with seven walks and six strikeouts against Jake Odorizzi (0-2, 3.83), who allowed two earned runs and struck out 16 over 12 2/3 innings in two starts against the Blue Jays this season. However, he faces them again after yielding five runs on three homers in four innings of Friday's 6-3 loss to Oakland.
"It's baseball," said Odorizzi, who matched his home run total allowed through his first seven starts. "They get hits and you make a couple of bad pitches, and it costs you runs."
The right-hander equaled the second-longest winless start to a season in team history, but is still well shy of Tanyon Sturtze's 15 straight that opened 2002.
Odorizzi, 0-1 with a 6.19 ERA in three road starts, wasn't completely upset with his stuff from that last outing.
"I was around the zone and trying to get as quick of outs as possible," he said. "I thought I did a good job of commanding the zone. ... Fastball location wasn't the greatest overall. But I thought my curveball and slider were pretty good."
Josh Donaldson is 1 for 21 in five games, and 1 for 6 with a home run against Odorizzi this season.
Toronto reliever Jesse Chavez is also appealing his three-game suspension for his part in the altercation with the Rangers.