Tampa Bay (62-44) at Toronto (54-53)

Mostly Cloudy Currently: Toronto, ON
Temp: 64° F
  • Game info: 12:37 pm EDT Wed Jul 30, 2008
Preview | Box Score | Recap

The Tampa Bay Rays have had no trouble beating one of the game’s best pitchers this season. On Wednesday, they can see how they fare against one making his major league debut.

The Rays look to extend their AL East lead for a second straight day as they close a three-game series against the Toronto Blue Jays at Rogers Centre.

After splitting a four-game set at Kansas City, Tampa Bay (62-44) opened this series Monday with a 3-1 loss and had to face Toronto ace Roy Halladay on Tuesday night.

While Halladay pitched well, Rays right-hander Matt Garza was better, tossing a five-hitter for his first career shutout in a 3-0 victory.

Eric Hinske homered against his former team and Evan Longoria added a two-run triple as Tampa Bay moved two games ahead of Boston and four in front of the New York Yankees in the East.

“I told (Garza) after the game how hard it is to beat Halladay at home,” Hinske said. “We only scored him one run for the first seven innings and he just kept shutting them down and shutting them down. It was huge for us.”

The Rays, 7-5 since entering the All-Star break with seven straight losses, beat Halladay for the third time this season, joining the 2007 Red Sox as the only teams to accomplish that.

“When you face Halladay, you’re not going to beat him up ever, so you have to pitch well,” Rays manager Joe Maddon said. “That’s the been the mantra and we’ve got to keep doing that.”

Tampa Bay has managed to stay atop the division despite hitting just .208 and averaging 2.6 runs over the last 18 games.

Outfielders Carl Crawford and B.J. Upton have been two of the leading culprits in that slump. Crawford is batting .183 with no homers and four RBIs during that span while Upton is hitting .224 with no home runs and two RBIs.

Blue Jays center fielder Alex Rios went hitless in four at-bats Tuesday, and is 2-for-19 in his last five games.

Toronto (53-52), which has lost eight of 11 this season against Tampa Bay, sends Scott Richmond to the mound to make his major league debut.

With John Parrish moving from the rotation to the bullpen, Toronto purchased Richmond’s contract from Triple-A Syracuse on Monday. A 28-year-old native of Vancouver, Richmond was 5-10 with a 4.29 ERA in 21 starts between Double-A and Triple-A this season.

Pitching for Toronto means the 6-foot-5 right-hander will lose his spot on the Canadian Olympic Team.

“This is what you’ve always worked hard to play for your whole life—from when you’re four years old, growing all the way up,” he said. “You always want to be a Major League Baseball player. It’s just bad timing, but I’m going to take this timing over any other time, that’s for sure.”

Richmond will become the 14th Canadian to play for the Blue Jays.

Edwin Jackson (6-7, 4.22 ERA) seeks his first career win in his eighth start against the Blue Jays. The right-hander is 0-3 with a 4.40 ERA in seven starts versus Toronto, going 0-1 with a 4.38 ERA in two games this season. He pitched eight scoreless innings against the Blue Jays on May 8 in Tampa Bay’s 8-3, 13-inning victory.

Jackson was a 5-3 winner at Kansas City on Friday, yielding two runs and two hits in five-plus innings while throwing only 74 pitches.

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Starting Pitchers

E. Jackson ChC vs. S. Richmond Tor
14-11 Record 1-3
4.42 ERA 4.00
108 K 20
77 BB 2
1.51 WHIP 1.26

Scoreboard

Wednesday, Jul 30