Tampa Bay (73-59) at Toronto (66-67)

Mostly Cloudy Currently: Toronto, ON
Temp: 79° F
  • Game info: 7:07 pm EDT Mon Aug 29, 2011
  • TV: SUN, RSN
Preview | Box Score | Recap

While the standings may show differently, the Tampa Bay Rays are playing like they are in the thick of a playoff race.

The Rays look to complete their first four-game sweep of the Blue Jays on Monday night when the teams close their series in Toronto.

Facing large deficits in the AL East and wild-card races to Boston and the New York Yankees, respectively, Tampa Bay (72-59) has made up little ground despite going 20-9 since July 28.

They’ll try to complete their first four-game sweep of the Toronto following a dominating performance by David Price(notes) in a 12-0 victory Sunday. Price struck out a franchise-record 14 in seven dominant innings and Desmond Jennings(notes) hit two solo homers.

“It’s a great win for us,” said Price, whose first seven outs came by strikeout. “We’re trying to get back in it.”

It was the latest in a string of strong outings by Tampa Bay’s rotation. Over the last 29 games, it has a 2.90 ERA, including a 1.94 mark in the last six.

Not to be outdone, the offense has scored 24 runs in the series. Jennings has raised his batting average 37 points over the last week, going 13 for 26 in the last six games.

Jennings’ four hits Sunday upped his season average against the Blue Jays up to .429. He has seven extra-base hits, including five homers.

As hot as the offense has been, it could be tough to keep things going against Ricky Romero(notes) (12-9, 2.78 ERA).

Romero gave up three runs in six innings of a 4-3 win over Kansas City on Wednesday. Although he failed to earn a decision after five consecutive wins, the Blue Jays have won in his last seven starts.

The left-hander has a 1.84 ERA over the last seven starts.

He’s been just as dominant in three starts against the Rays, giving up four runs in 22 1-3 innings while going 2-1.

However, he has had trouble against several Tampa Bay hitters, including Johnny Damon(notes) (7 for 17) and Ben Zobrist(notes) (7 for 19). Jennings homered against Romero earlier this season.

Romero will try to end Toronto’s season-high four-game losing streak. The Blue Jays (66-67), who have struck out 65 times in losing five of six games on their homestand, have hit .192 in the series.

Jose Bautista(notes) has gone 1 for 10 with six strikeouts in this series. He is 2 for 16 against Rays scheduled starter Wade Davis(notes) (8-7, 4.28).

Davis gave up two runs and four hits in nine innings of a 3-2, 10-inning win over Detroit on Wednesday.

It was Davis’ fourth straight start without a decision. However, the Rays have won his last five starts, during which he has a 3.75 ERA.

The right-hander is 2-2 with a 2.93 ERA in six career starts against the Blue Jays and is winless in three starts against them this year, recording a 3.38 ERA with 10 walks and nine strikeouts over 21 1-3 innings.

Adam Lind(notes) and Yunel Escobar(notes) are both 5 for 14 against Davis. Lind, in a 3-for-25 slump, did not play Sunday.

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Starting Pitchers

W. Davis KC vs. R. Romero Tor
11-10 Record 15-11
4.45 ERA 2.92
105 K 178
63 BB 80
1.38 WHIP 1.14

Scoreboard

Monday, Aug 29