Though they’ve both been eliminated from postseason contention for a while, Toronto and Tampa Bay still feel like they have something to play for.
The Blue Jays and Devil Rays battle to stay out of the AL East cellar as they open a three-game series at Tropicana Field.
The Devil Rays lost 7-3 to the Yankees on Thursday, falling 31 games behind New York in the East. They are in fourth place, just a half-game ahead of the last-place Blue Jays.
Toronto took two of three from Tampa Bay last weekend, and has won nine of 16 meetings this season. The Blue Jays won the season series in the first five years after the Devil Rays joined the league in 1998, but lost 11 of the 19 games the teams played last season.
The Devil Rays, opening a season-ending 11-game homestand, are trying to finish better than last place in the division for the first time in franchise history.
“Let it go down to the last day if it has to,” Tampa Bay manager Lou Piniella said after last weekend’s series.
Thursday was supposed to be an off-day for the Devil Rays, but they were forced to travel to Yankee Stadium to make up an April 13 rainout. The game later scheduled to be made up as part of a Labor Day doubleheader, but Tamp Bay was delayed traveling due to a hurricane.
Aubrey Huff went 4-for-4 for the Devil Rays, who have lost five of six.
“I don’t think anybody was looking forward to this trip today,” outfielder Carl Crawford said. “But you can make all kinds of excuses. We just played a bad game.”
The Blue Jays, who were idle Thursday, beat the Yankees 5-4 on Wednesday for their fourth win in five games. Vernon Wells hit a go-ahead, two-run triple in the seventh, and rookie Russ Adams had three hits.
The Blue Jays are just two defeats shy of their first 90-loss season since 1980.
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