Roy Halladay may be the favorite to win the Cy Young Award in the American League, but he’s only focused on finishing the season with a flourish.
The 26-year-old right-hander became the first 21-game winner in the majors when he pitched a six-hitter in a 6-0 win over the Detroit Tigers on Wednesday. He struck out seven, walked none and threw 72 of his 102 pitches for strikes.
Halladay joined Jack Morris in 1992 and Roger Clemens (1997) as the only 21-game winners in Blue Jays history.
“This has been a fun run,” Halladay said. “I think it’s important for me to stay focused for my next two starts, and then I can start thinking about awards. Right now, I’m just trying to make my best pitches and not think about anything.”
Halladay has strengthened his Cy Young resume by allowing only one earned run in his last 37 innings. He has thrown a league-leading 252 innings with just 31 walks and 187 strikeouts.
“He cemented it for me a while back but it’s for other people to make that decision,” Blue Jays manager Carlos Tosca said when asked if Halladay should win pitching’s top award.
Halladay is 9-1 with a 3.04 ERA in 15 starts at SkyDome.
Toronto assured itself of its first .500 season since 2000 with a 7-4 win over the Baltimore Orioles on Sunday.
The Devil Rays are coming in after being swept three straight by the New York Yankees. They need to win three of their last seven games to avoid posting their third straight 100-loss season.
STANDINGS: Devil Rays - 5th place, 37 GB, AL East. Blue Jays - 3rd place, 16 GB, AL East.
DEVIL RAYS PROBABLE STARTER: Rob Bell (4-4, 5.58 ERA). The right-hander gave up three runs and seven hits over three innings in a 4-3 loss to Boston on Thursday. He is 1-0 with a 7.16 ERA in three career starts against Toronto.
BLUE JAYS PROBABLE STARTER: Halladay (21-6, 3.18 ERA). Halladay is 3-1 with a 3.58 ERA in 10 career appearances, including seven starts, against Tampa Bay.
OFFENSIVE LEADERS: Devil Rays - Aubrey Huff, .307 avg., 31 HRs and 102 RBIs; Rocco Baldelli, 86 runs; Carl Crawford, 51 SBs. Blue Jays - Vernon Wells, .320 avg.; Carlos Delgado, 36 HRs and 134 RBIs; Wells, 114 runs; Eric Hinske, 11 SBs.
SEASON SERIES: Devil Rays, 10-5.
STREAKS AND NOTES: Devil Rays - Tampa Bay has hit 91 batters this season, three short of tying the major league record it set last year. … The Devil Rays suffered their 10th shutout of the season Sunday. … Tampa Bay went 2-9 during an 11-game stretch against the Yankees and Boston. Blue Jays - LF Reed Johnson had four hits Sunday, and is riding an 18-game hitting streak, the longest by a rookie in the AL this season. … RHP Aquilino Lopez earned his 13th save Sunday. … Toronto had a season-high four stolen bases on Sunday.
ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Devil Rays - 26-51 on the road; Blue Jays - 36-38 at home.
INJURIES: Devil Rays - SS Rey Ordonez (knee), 15-day DL; DH-RF Ben Grieve (clot), 60-day DL; RHP Seth McClung (elbow), 60-day DL. Blue Jays - LHP Doug Creek (elbow), 60-day DL; RHP Bob File (shoulder), 60-day DL.