Tampa Bay (72-59) at Toronto (66-66)

Cloudy Currently: Toronto, ON
Temp: 14° F
  • Game info: 1:07 pm EDT Sun Aug 28, 2011
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Tampa Bay’s David Price(notes) has put together three consecutive solid starts to help the Rays keep their slim playoff hopes alive.

He has to like his chances of continuing that run against the Toronto Blue Jays.

Price will go for his third win in four tries this year against the Blue Jays when the teams continue a four-game set Sunday.

Price (11-11, 3.53 ERA) is looking to continue an impressive run over the last three weeks by Tampa Bay pitching, which has kept the team on the fringes of the playoff race.

After Rays starters lasted at least seven innings in 11 consecutive games, Jeff Niemann(notes) came up just short Saturday. He gave up three runs and struck out six over 6 1-3 innings and B. J. Upton hit a three-run homer in a 6-5 win

Tampa Bay (72-59) is an AL-best 19-9 since July 28 and its starters have a 2.53 ERA over the past 18 games.

Despite that success, the Rays remain seven games behind New York in the wild-card race and face an even larger deficit in the AL East to Boston. However, Upton said they still feel they can be a factor over the next month.

“I keep saying that we’re very much in this race right now,” he said. “We’ve just got to continue to try and win series. That’s all we can ask ourselves. Hopefully (New York and Boston) hit a little rut and we can gain some ground on them.”

Price will try to keep things going coming off three impressive starts of his own. It helps that he’ll be facing a team he has dominated throughout his career.

The left-hander has gone eight innings in each of his last three starts. After giving up one run in wins over the Yankees and Red Sox, he allowed two runs and struck out six in a 2-1 loss to Detroit on Tuesday.

Price is 8-1 with a 2.19 ERA in 10 career starts against the Blue Jays, but suffered that lone loss in his most recent matchup, giving up three runs in 6 2-3 innings of a 3-1 home defeat Aug. 2.

Despite his success against Toronto (66-66), Price hasn’t been able to solve slugger Jose Bautista(notes), who is 9 for 22 with four homers against him, three coming in six at-bats this year.

After being ejected Friday, Bautista went 1 for 3 with a double Saturday as Toronto lost its third straight. He’s 4 for 23 in his last eight games against the Rays after going 6 for 6 in the first two contests.

The Blue Jays send Brandon Morrow(notes) (9-8, 4.65) to mound hoping he can continue his success against Tampa Bay.

Morrow is 3-2 with a 1.87 ERA in six starts and four relief appearances against the Rays. He’s trying to bounce back after he gave up six runs and a career-high 11 hits over 4 2-3 innings of a 6-4 loss to Kansas City on Tuesday.

He declined to speak with reporters after suffering his third loss in four starts.

The right-hander has split a pair of outings this season against the Rays, yielding four runs while striking out 17 in 11 2-3 innings.

He’ll want to pitch carefully to Evan Longoria(notes), who walked three times and scored twice Saturday. Longoria is 4 for 13 with three walks against Morrow.

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Starting Pitchers

D. Price Det vs. B. Morrow SD
12-13 Record 11-11
3.49 ERA 4.72
218 K 203
63 BB 69
1.14 WHIP 1.29

Scoreboard

Sunday, Aug 28