Poor offensive production at home is a major problem for the Tampa Bay Rays.
The Rays look to solve Cecil and build on one of their best offensive displays of the season at Tropicana Field as they conclude a three-game set with the Toronto Blue Jays on Thursday.
Tampa Bay (57-52) is 25-26 at home, hitting .227 while scoring 3.3 runs per game to rank toward the bottom of the majors in both categories.
The Rays showed a glimpse of being able to break out at home Wednesday, collecting 12 hits with three homers in a 9-1 win over Toronto (56-54). That was a vast improvement from the three hits in Tuesday’s 3-1 loss in the opener of a 10-game homestand.
“We’ve got to get this one thing turned around and that’s to play better offensively here while maintaining the rest of our game,” manager Joe Maddon said. “Then we can make some noise.”
Partly due to the struggles at Tropicana Field, Tampa Bay is 10 games back of wild card-leading New York.
“Huge mountain,” Maddon said. “But I’m not waving any white flags right now.”
Offensive production against Cecil (4-4, 4.34 ERA) may be limited again.
The left-hander went 3-0 with a 2.17 ERA in his final four starts of July - all Blue Jays wins. He defeated Texas in the last two, allowing one run with 13 strikeouts in 16 innings after making a change in his windup.
Cecil allowed one run in seven innings of Friday’s 3-2 win over the Rangers.
“He’s had better energy in the delivery, and he’s had better location to his stuff down in the zone,” manager John Farrell told the team’s official website. “I think he’s gained confidence over these past two outings, particularly against the Rangers. He continues to move in the right direction.”
He has a 1.17 ERA in three road starts since being recalled from the minors in late June. Cecil is 2-1 with a 3.10 ERA in three starts at Tropicana Field, all of which came last season.
Toronto is also looking to show improvement at the plate. The team has won five of seven despite batting .220.
Baseball’s leader with 32 homers, Bautista has hit two in 26 games at St. Petersburg and is 6 for 30 in his last 10 there.
Davis (8-7, 4.62) is 1-1 with a 7.16 ERA in his last three starts. He was tagged for five runs in six innings Thursday, but Tampa Bay’s offense lifted him to a win by providing nine runs of support in a 10-8 victory at Oakland.
“Once you release the ball, there is really nothing you can control,” Davis told the team’s official website. “Once you can get a handle on that, then I think you’re a lot better off that way. When you start stressing out about everything, it’s going to affect the way you perform.”
He’s 2-2 with a 2.80 ERA in five starts versus Toronto, going at least seven innings in four of those meetings.
Ben Zobrist(notes) had two hits with a solo homer Tuesday, but he’s batting .212 with six homers and 14 RBIs at home. He’s been vastly better on the road with a .335 average, nine home runs and 48 RBIs.