Halladay, coming off a 6-3 opening day win over Minnesota on Tuesday in which he allowed two earned runs in 7 2-3 innings, is 4-3 with a 3.67 ERA in 12 career starts against Tampa Bay.
The Blue Jays (3-2) are hoping their ace can return to his 2003 form that earned him the AL Cy Young Award.
Halladay went 22-7 with a 3.25 ERA in 36 starts that year, but has won just 21 games in two-plus seasons since due to various ailments.
Toronto—which won six of its first eight games a year ago en route to an 80-82 record—won two of three games against Minnesota to open the 2006 season before splitting the first two matchups with Tampa Bay.
In an 8-4 win over the Devil Rays on Saturday, Gregg Zaun’s two-run homer in the fifth inning capped a five-run rally to erase a 4-0 Tampa Bay lead.
Zaun was activated off the disabled list before the game and saw his first action this season since being sidelined with a calf injury.
“It was really a nice moment for me to put us ahead and to contribute the first day back,” Zaun said. “I haven’t felt the calf in a week. I felt good. There weren’t any inhibitions about moving around the bases.”
Starter Ted Lilly struggled with his control and lasted just 2 1-3 innings, allowing three earned runs on four hits, walking six. Of Lilly’s 67 pitches, only 32 were strikes.
“We tried pretty much everything to get something going, some sort of a pitch going. It was a tough day for him,” Zaun said.
Brian Tallet relieved Lilly and pitched 2 2-3 scoreless frames to notch his first win since Sept. 16, 2002.
Tampa Bay (2-3) starting pitchers have struggled in the early going, beginning with Scott Kazmir’s opening day outing in which he allowed six earned runs on eight hits—including three homers—in four innings of a 9-6 loss to Baltimore.
Kazmir gets a chance to rebound when he faces the Blue Jays, a team he’s 1-2 against with a 3.51 ERA in six career starts.
The Devil Rays’ rotation is 1-2 with an 8.14 ERA.
Starter Doug Waechter lasted just 3 2-3 innings Saturday, giving up three earned runs on six hits before relievers Jason Childers and Travis Harper came on to surrender five earned runs in 3 1-3 frames.
Kazmir, 22, came on during the second half of last season and showed some of the promise that made him the 15th overall pick by the New York Mets in the 2002 draft, going 7-2 with a 2.79 ERA in his last 14 starts.