After they salvaged a victory against the AL East champs this week, the Tampa Bay Rays head home hoping their final push toward a postseason berth proves successful.
Tampa Bay (86-70) blew a golden opportunity to catch wild card-leading Boston - which dropped three of four to Baltimore - when it lost three of four at New York this week. The Rays managed to avoid being swept Thursday when they beat a lineup full of Yankee reserves 15-8.
With the victory, Tampa Bay moved within two games of the idle Red Sox and one ahead of the Los Angeles Angels.
While the Yankees have a chance to help out the Rays while hosting the reeling Red Sox this weekend, Tampa Bay tries to improve on its 10-5 record versus Toronto (79-77) this season.
The Rays are thankful Price (12-12, 3.36 ERA) will make this start after he left following four innings Sunday at Boston when he was hit on the upper right side of his chest with a line drive during the 8-5 win. The left-hander allowed two runs and three hits before he left the game one inning after he was injured.
“It was more scary than anything else,” Price told the Rays’ official website. “I feel fine.”
Price is 0-1 with a 3.04 ERA in four starts since he allowed three hits and struck out a career-high 14 over seven innings of 12-0 win at Toronto on Aug. 28. He is 9-1 with a 1.99 ERA in 11 career starts against the Blue Jays, including 3-1 with a 2.08 ERA and 35 strikeouts this season.
“He’s got great movement,” Blue Jays bench coach Don Wakamatsu said. “You can get down in the count right away.”
Scheduled Toronto starter Brandon Morrow(notes) (10-11, 4.98) allowed five runs in 5 1-3 innings in that loss against Price last month to fall 1-2 with a 4.76 ERA versus Tampa Bay in 2011. That outing was part of a stretch where the right-hander went 0-4 with a 9.47 ERA in five starts before he gave up four hits and fanned eight in eight innings of a 3-0 win over the Yankees on Sunday.
“I needed that one just to get my confidence back,” Morrow said. “I’m still trying to finish strong and that’s a good place to start.”
Though Bautista leads the majors with 42 home runs, he has not hit one in his last eight games. However, six of his 11 hits in 36 at-bats against the Rays this season have left the park.