The Devil Rays (22-32), who finished 2-8 on a 10-game road swing, snapped their season-high six-game losing streak with an 8-6 victory over Baltimore on Thursday.
Tampa Bay’s only other victory on the trip came against Toronto (29-23) on May 24.
“It’s a nice thing to get on a plane and travel home with a win,” Devil Rays manager Joe Maddon said. “We finally won one of them. You’ve got to evaluate things for what they are and not blow things out of proportion in a negative way. When you are doing a lot of good things, you’ve just got to finish—and we finally finished one tonight.”
The Devil Rays have won four straight and five of their last six at Tropicana Field.
The Blue Jays are 5-4 against the Devil Rays this season. Toronto has won six of its last eight on the road against Tampa Bay, though, including two of three this year.
“They’re not a fun team to play, I’ll tell you that,” Toronto manager John Gibbons said of the Devil Rays. “Their record doesn’t show it, but they battle as well as anyone. They’ve got some power in their lineup, they’ve got speed. If you let some of their guys get on base, they can run you to death. They can beat you in a lot of different ways.”
Friday’s matchup will be the third of the season between Tampa Bay’s Seth McClung (2-6, 6.13 ERA) and Toronto’s Casey Janssen (3-3, 3.25). McClung and the Devil Rays won at home on May 12, while Janssen and the Blue Jays won in Toronto on May 22.
Janssen, a rookie right-hander, is looking to win his third straight decision. He gave up six hits and four runs in 6 2-3 innings in Toronto’s 6-4 win over McClung and Tampa Bay on May 22.
I’m feeling more and more comfortable everyday. The nerves are gone. The emotion part is gone. Now I can just work on pitching,” Janssen said.
McClung allowed only one run and six hits in seven innings on May 12, but has been hit hard in his last two starts. He gave up six runs to the Blue Jays — against Janssen—and seven hits and six runs in a 6-4 loss to Boston on Saturday.
Overall, McClung is 2-3 with a 6.54 ERA in seven career appearances—five of them starts—against Toronto.
The Blue Jays enter this series following a nine-game homestand in which they went 6-3. Toronto took two games in each three-game series it played against Tampa Bay, the Chicago White Sox and Boston.
In each series, the Blue Jays won the first two games before falling in the series finale.
“The same thing happened in the final game against the White Sox,” Toronto manager John Gibbons said after the Blue Jays lost 8-6 to the Red Sox on Wednesday. “You’ll take two out of three from the top clubs any time. One of these days we’ll sweep somebody. It’ll happen.”
The Blue Jays have their best record through 52 games since 1993, when they were 30-22 on their way to their second straight World Series title.