If nothing else, the Tampa Bay Devils have the Toronto Blue Jays going for them this season.
The Devil Rays will try to clinch their fourth straight series win over the Blue Jays when the teams resume a three-game set at Tropicana Field.
Tampa Bay, mired in last place in the AL East, posted a 10-1 victory over Toronto in Monday’s series opener. The Devil Rays have won eight of 10 from the Blue Jays this year.
Tampa Bay has won five of its last seven overall, but has been unable to draw even respectable crowds at home.
Monday’s game drew just 8,193 fans—the smallest crowd ever at Tropicana Field. The Devil Rays were playing the first of a 10-game homestand after returning from a road trip during which they went 6-5 against teams with winning records.
“It is somewhat disappointing,” Tampa Bay first-year manager Lou Piniella said. “We’d like to see better crowds here the rest of the homestand. The team’s playing very respectably.”
Julio Lugo homered and tied a career high with five RBIs on Monday. He is batting .444 (8-for-18) during a five-game hitting streak with eight RBIs.
The Blue Jays lost for the fifth time in seven games, falling to 7-10 since the All-Star break.
Josh Phelphs drove in the lone run for Toronto, and Mike Bordick went 2-for-4 to extend the AL’s longest current hitting streak to 13 games.
Toronto was just 1-of-14 overall with runners in scoring position and tied a season high by leaving 14 on base.
“It’s something that we’ve been struggling with lately,” Toronto center fielder Vernon Wells said. “You go through periods like that unfortunately, but hopefully we can snap out of it.”
STANDINGS: Blue Jays - 3rd place, 12 1/2 GB, AL East. Devil Rays - 5th place, 25 1/2 GB, AL East.
BLUE JAYS PROBABLE STARTER: Mark Hendrickson (6-8, 5.45 ERA). Hendrickson is 1-3 over his last seven starts, allowing at least four earned runs four times over that span. The left-hander lost his second straight outing Thursday, giving up five earned runs and nine hits over 4 1-3 innings of a 7-6 setback to Tampa Bay. He is 0-2 with a 6.75 ERA in two starts against Tampa Bay this season. In three career outings against the Devil Rays, Hendrickson is 1-2 with a 5.00 ERA.
DEVIL RAYS PROBABLE STARTER: Jorge Sosa (4-8, 4.83 ERA). Sosa, who defeated Hendrickson and the Blue Jays on Thursday, has given up two earned runs or fewer in four of his last six starts. Against Toronto, the right-hander walked five, but allowed just two earned runs and three hits over 5 1-3 innings, improving to 1-1 with a 4.36 ERA in two starts against the Blue Jays this season. Sosa is 2-2 all-time against the Blue Jays with a 5.87 ERA in six appearances, including four starts.
OFFENSIVE LEADERS: Blue Jays - Carlos Delgado, .306 avg., 31 HRs, 107 RBIs and 88 runs; Bobby Kielty, 6 SBs. Devil Rays - Rocco Baldelli, .303 avg. and 62 runs; Aubrey Huff, 19 HRs and 59 RBIs; Carl Crawford, 34 SBs.
SEASON SERIES: Devil Rays, 8-2.
STREAKS AND NOTES: Blue Jays - SS Bordick is batting .426 (20-for-47) during his 13-game hitting streak. … Despite driving in just one run in his last six games, 1B Delgado still leads the AL in RBIs. Twenty-six of his 31 homers this season have come against right-handers. … RF Reed Johnson is hitting .400 (12-for-30) when leading off a game this season. Devil Rays - SS Lugo also drove in five runs on June 13 during a 7-1 win over Pittsburgh. … Tampa Bay, which went 8-11 against Toronto in 2002, has never won a season series from the Blue Jays. The teams will have two more series to play following this one. … LF Crawford, who drove in two runs Monday, is batting .333 (8-for-24) during a five-game hitting streak.
ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Blue Jays - 31-26 on the road; Devil Rays - 23-31 at home.
INJURIES: Blue Jays - RHP Pete Walker (knee), 15-day DL; LHP Doug Creek (elbow), 60-day DL; RHP Bob File (shoulder), 60-day DL. Devil Rays - SS Rey Ordonez (knee), 15-day DL; INF Terry Shumpert (hamstring), 15-day DL; OF Ben Grieve (blood clot), 15-day DL; RHP Seth McClung (elbow), 60-day DL.