Halladay (5-2, 3.90 ERA) underwent an emergency appendectomy on May 11 that landed him on the DL. The right-hander was expected to miss four weeks, but returned sooner than planned and turned in one of his best performances of the season.
He pitched seven innings and scattered six hits in a 2-0 victory over the Chicago White Sox on Thursday, his 100th career win. Halladay didn’t issue a walk and struck out seven.
“It’s absolutely amazing to me,” Blue Jays catcher Sal Fasano said. “How do you do that in three weeks and make it look so easy? He’s a special player.”
The 2003 AL Cy Young Award winner is 9-4 with a 3.30 ERA in 22 career games versus the Devil Rays, and is 5-0 with a 2.22 ERA in his last six starts against them. He allowed three runs while striking out seven over seven innings in a 6-3 win over Tampa Bay on April 8.
The Blue Jays (27-29) have won four of six matchups between these teams this season and 15 of the last 20 in the series.
They took three of four games from the Chicago White Sox over the weekend, including a 4-3 victory in Sunday’s finale.
The win came at a price, though, as first baseman Lyle Overbay broke a bone in his right hand when he was hit by a pitch. Overbay is expected to miss four to six weeks and will become the ninth Toronto player on the disabled list.
“It’s almost comical when you start thinking about all of the guys that have gone down,” said Overbay, who is batting .256 with eight home runs and 27 RBIs. “I’ve never seen anything like this.”
Veteran Matt Stairs is expected to get the majority of the playing time at first base in Overbay’s absence.
Andy Sonnanstine will try to slow Toronto when he makes his major league debut for the Devil Rays (24-31). The 24-year-old right-hander was called up from Triple-A Durham, where he was 6-4 with a 2.66 ERA in 11 starts.
“My take with guys doing this for the first time is to not say anything except congratulate him for being here, and that he’s earned it,” manager Joe Maddon told the Devil Rays’ official Web site. “I just want him to do here, or up in Toronto, what he’s been doing in Durham and every place else since he’s been pitching or us. I want to keep his mind as uncluttered as possible.”
Tampa Bay won the final two contests of its four-game series with the Kansas City Royals, including a 4-2 victory on Monday, to earn a split. First baseman Carlos Pena went 3-for-3 with two RBIs, two doubles and a homer to boost his batting average to .313.
The Devil Rays are now trying to win three in a row for first time since a season-high four-game run May 13-17. They’ll be without third baseman Akinori Iwamura, who is still recovering from a bruised left eye and didn’t travel with the team for this series. He is expected back Friday at Florida.