Though his team has long been out of the race for a postseason spot, Carlos Delgado still has a lot of motivation for the final six games of the season.
With his 36 home runs this season, Delgado has 298 for his career. He’s also three RBIs shy of his career high of 137, set in 2000.
He says he’d like to get to 300 homers and set a personal mark for RBIs before the end of the season.
“Three hundred’s a nice, round number, a benchmark,” Delgado said. “But hopefully I can stay healthy for a few more years and get a bunch more. RBIs are always fun, and I can’t say enough about my teammates—if you don’t get anybody on, you can’t drive anybody in.
“Any time you do better than what you’ve done before, you accomplish something,” he added. “That’s the way it is.”
Though they have not been a factor in the AL East race, the Blue Jays are finishing the season strong, winning 14 of 20 games in September. They’ll hand the ball to resurgent right-hander Josh Towers on Tuesday.
After going 0-3 with a 7.90 ERA in just five appearances for Baltimore last year, Towers has rebounded to go 7-1 with a 4.61 ERA in 12 appearances, including six starts, for Toronto.
The Devil Rays need to win two of their final six games to avoid posting their third straight 100-loss season.
Despite their struggles, the Devil Rays have won 11 of 16 meetings with the Blue Jays, including Monday’s series opener 5-2. Rob Bell carried a no-hitter into the seventh inning and the Devil Rays beat Roy Halladay, who was ejected for hitting Tampa’s Rocco Baldelli with a pitch in the sixth inning.
STANDINGS (through Sept. 21): Devil Rays - 5th place, 37 GB, AL East. Blue Jays - 3rd place, 16 GB, AL East.
DEVIL RAYS PROBABLE STARTER: Victor Zambrano (11-9, 4.26 ERA). The hard-throwing right-hander is coming off his best outing of the season, allowing three hits in seven innings of a 7-0 win over Boston at Fenway Park on Wednesday. The outing was unexpected, considering he was hit hard for seven earned runs and 11 hits over 4 1-3 innings in a 10-4 loss to the New York Yankees in his previous start.
BLUE JAYS PROBABLE STARTER: Towers (7-1, 4.61 ERA): Towers has won three straight starts and has four wins and a save in his last five appearances. The 26-year-old righty allowed four earned runs and five hits in six innings of a 10-6 win over Detroit on Thursday. He is 1-1 with a 5.74 ERA in four career appearances, including two starts, against Tampa Bay.
OFFENSIVE LEADERS: Devil Rays - Aubrey Huff, .305 avg., 31 HRs and 102 RBIs; Rocco Baldelli, 87 runs; Carl Crawford, 51 SBs. Blue Jays - Vernon Wells, .321 avg.; Delgado, 36 HRs and 134 RBIs; Wells, 115 runs; Eric Hinske, 11 SBs.
SEASON SERIES: Devil Rays, 11-5.
STREAKS AND NOTES: Devil Rays - C Toby Hall is just 1-for-6 in his career against RHP Towers. … RHP Zambrano is 2-0 with a 3.67 ERA in eight career appearances, including three starts, against Toronto. … OF Crawford is in a 5-for-41 slide (.122). Blue Jays - Toronto is 39-15 when OF and leadoff hitter Reed Johnson scores one run and 13-1 when he scores two or more. Johnson extended his rookie club-record hitting streak to 19 games on Monday. … 1B Delgado is 3-for-7 with a home run in his career against Zambrano. … The current Blue Jays are hitting a collective .267 (20-for-75) against Zambrano.
ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Devil Rays - 27-51 on the road; Blue Jays - 36-39 at home.
INJURIES: Devil Rays - INF Rey Ordonez (knee), 15-day DL; OF 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.
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