Tampa Bay (37-66) at Toronto (54-51)

Partly Cloudy Currently: Toronto, ON
Temp: 79° F
  • Game info: 7:05 pm EDT Tue Jul 29, 2003
Preview | Box Score | Recap

With trade rumors swirling around him, Kelvim Escobar makes what could be his last appearance with the Toronto Blue Jays as they open a three-game series against the Tampa Bay Devil Rays at SkyDome.

Escobar has enjoyed some success as a starter this season after joining the rotation May 18, but he’s been the focus of several trade rumors the past few weeks. Those whispers figure to intensify as Thursday’s non-waiver deadline draws closer.

The hard-throwing right-hander, who has spent his entire career as a Blue Jay, says he tries not to let it bother him.

“If something happens, it happens. I can’t control it (the talk),” Escobar said. “All I can control is to go out and pitch. I’ve been on just one team my whole life. I can’t see myself on a different team right now.”

Escobar has pitched well in his last two outings, allowing three runs in 15 innings, but deserved a better fate in his most recent start.

He gave up two runs in seven innings to the Chicago White Sox on Thursday, but did not figure in the decision as the Blue Jays lost 4-3.

Toronto took two of three from Baltimore over the weekend, including a 10-1 rout Sunday. Carlos Delgado hit his AL-leading 30th homer to become the first Blue Jay to reach the 30-homer mark in seven consecutive seasons.

Tampa Bay lost 9-1 to Chicago on Sunday as the White Sox took two of three games in the series.

The Devil Rays are 2-2 in their last four contests, scoring 25 runs in the pair of victories but managing just three runs in the two losses.

The road has not been kind to Tampa Bay of late. The Rays dropped to 0-9-1 in their last 10 road series.

DEVIL RAYS PROBABLE STARTER: Gonzalez (4-4, 3.73 ERA). The veteran right-hander has performed admirably for Tampa Bay, allowing more than three earned runs only three times in 15 starts. In his last outing, he gave up three runs and seven hits in six innings of a 10-4 defeat at Boston on Wednesday. Gonzalez has never faced the Blue Jays.

BLUE JAYS PROBABLE STARTER: Escobar (6-6, 4.34 ERA). The right-hander is 4-6 with a 6.43 ERA with seven saves in 30 games—including 10 starts—against the Devil Rays.

OFFENSIVE LEADERS: Devil Rays - Rocco Baldelli, .308 avg. and 56 runs; Aubrey Huff, 18 HRs and 57 RBIs; Carl Crawford, 27 SBs. Blue Jays - Delgado, .310 avg., 30 HRs and 105 RBIs; Vernon Wells, 84 runs; Bobby Kielty, 6 SBs.

SEASON SERIES: Devil Rays, 4-2.

STREAKS AND NOTES: Devil Rays - OF Baldelli has 37 extra-base hits, breaking Miguel Cairo’s franchise record for rookies (36 in 1998). … OF Baldelli (124) and OF Crawford (101) are the 15th pair of 21-year-old teammates to each get 100 hits in a season, and first since Texas’ Jerry Browne (123) and Ruben Sierra (169) in 1987. … OF Huff has an AL-best 36 doubles, third-most in franchise history behind Randy Winn’s 39 of last season and Quinton McCracken’s 38 in 1998. Blue Jays - RHP Escobar is 36-35 with a 4.60 ERA as a starter. … OF Wells has a 14-game hitting streak, and has hit five home runs in his last six games. … The Blue Jays are 8-17 in their last 25 games.

ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Devil Rays - 15-35 on the road; Blue Jays - 25-27 at home.

INJURIES: Devil Rays - SS Rey Ordonez (knee), 15-day DL; OF Ben Grieve (blood clot), 15-day DL; RHP Seth McClung (elbow), 60-day DL. Blue Jays - INF Dave Berg (fatigue), 15-day DL; RHP Pete Walker (knee), 15-day DL; LHP Doug Creek (elbow), 60-day DL; RHP Bob File (shoulder), 60-day DL.

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Starting Pitchers

G. Gonzalez Tor vs. K. Escobar Mil
6-11 Record 13-9
3.91 ERA 4.29
97 K 159
69 BB 78
1.28 WHIP 1.48