The Rays will try to continue their recent dominance over the Blue Jays at Tropicana Field in Monday night’s opener of a three-game set.
Tampa Bay (80-50) kept pace with New York in the division by beating Boston 5-3 on Sunday night. The Rays won for the 11th time in 15 games as Carlos Pena and Carl Crawford(notes) homered to back James Shields(notes).
Tampa Bay remained tied with the Yankees for the seventh straight day.
“That’s interesting,” manager Joe Maddon said. “That’s just the way it is. And, I expect the same kind of September. Back and forth, back and forth, back and forth.”
Maddon’s club will try to keep rolling against Toronto (68-62), a team it has beaten 21 times in 26 home matchups. The Rays took two of three during both series at Tropicana Field this season.
Tampa Bay has gone 21-6 in its last 27 home games.
The right-hander won in his return from the disabled list Wednesday, allowing two runs over 5 1-3 innings of a 10-3 rout of Los Angeles.
“He had really good stuff. It’s a nice first step coming back,” Maddon said. “The ball was jumping out of his hand well. He looked healthy.”
Davis gave up three runs over seven innings in that game, his only start against Toronto, but Cecil allowed one run in 6 2-3 innings during the 3-2 win.
Cecil pitched seven innings of one-run ball in a 2-1 home victory over the Rays on Aug. 6 to win his third straight start against them. He is 4-1 with a 3.45 ERA in six games - five starts - versus Tampa Bay.
The left-hander gave up two runs in each of his last two starts, winning both. He threw eight innings in a 6-3 victory over New York on Wednesday.
Cecil, seeking his fourth win in five outings, has allowed three runs or fewer in eight of his last nine starts. He has gone 7-1 with a 2.14 ERA against division foes this season.
“He’s probably pitched as well as anybody on this club,” manager Cito Gaston said. “He feels like he belongs here. He’s got some confidence going.”
After taking 14 of 18 from Toronto in 2009, Tampa Bay has split 12 games with the Blue Jays this year.