Toronto (53-53) at Tampa Bay (40-66)

Cloudy Currently: St. Petersburg, FL
Temp: 71° F
  • Game info: 3:10 pm EDT Wed Aug 1, 2007
  • TV: FSFL
Preview | Box Score | Recap

Toronto’s Josh Towers didn’t hide his frustration after his last start. The Blue Jays are hoping his pitching does all the talking Wednesday as they wrap up a three-game series with the Tampa Bay Devil Rays at Tropicana Field.

After giving up four runs in 5 1-3 innings of Friday’s 4-3 road loss to the Chicago White Sox, Towers (5-7, 5.08 ERA) complained that he was taken out of the game too early and went on to call out both his teammates and his coaches.

“I just don’t think that we consistently put ourselves in positions to make plays ahead of time,” he told the Blue Jays’ official Web site. “I don’t think we were heads-up. I don’t think we consistently show up as a coaching staff and as a team every day, and I think it shows sometimes.”

The tirade led to a players-only meeting the following day.

“I always understand frustration,” catcher Gregg Zaun said. “I never understand throwing teammates and coaches under the bus.”

Towers has lost two of his last three starts, allowing 10 runs in 11 innings in the defeats. In between those outings, however, he threw 6 2-3 innings in a 1-0 win over Seattle on July 21.

Towers is 8-5 with a 4.53 ERA in 19 appearances, including 16 starts, against the Devil Rays - his most appearances and wins against any opponent. He gave up one unearned run in two innings of relief in his only outing against them this season, earning a 12-11 win on June 5.

Towers was rumored to be part of a potential deal with Philadelphia as Tuesday’s trade deadline approached, but the Blue Jays ended up not making any moves. They are in third place in the AL East, 11 games behind division-leading Boston.

Toronto, however, has won seven of its last 10, including Tuesday’s 2-0 victory. Starter Jesse Litsch, a former Tampa Bay bat boy, threw 6 2-3 innings against his former employer and walked away with the win.

The Devil Rays were also quiet on the trade front Tuesday. They did pick up a number of relievers over the weekend, including Dan Wheeler in a deal that sent infielder Ty Wigginton to Houston.

“Upgrading our bullpen has been a priority for us for a long time,” executive vice president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman told Tampa Bay’s official team Web site.

Tampa Bay, which finished in last place in all but one of its first nine seasons, has lost 26 of 33 since June 25.

Jason Hammel (1-1, 5.33) will try to lead the Rays to their first series win since July 17-19 when he makes his third start of the season. Hammel, who made 10 relief appearances before joining the rotation, retired the first 11 batters in his last start against Boston on Friday, but ended up allowing two runs in 5 1-3 innings of a 7-1 loss.

“I felt good mentally,” said Hammel, who was on a pitch count and threw 88 pitches. “I was locked in. Sometimes the body doesn’t catch up.”

Hammel, who went 0-6 with a 7.77 ERA in nine starts last season, has never faced Toronto.

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Starting Pitchers

J. Towers LAD vs. J. Hammel ChC
5-10 Record 3-5
5.38 ERA 6.14
76 K 64
22 BB 40
1.41 WHIP 1.65


Wednesday, Aug 1