Tampa Bay’s standout left-hander looks to improve to 6-0 in his career against the Blue Jays as the teams decide their three-game set Wednesday night in St. Petersburg.
The Rays (81-51) slipped one game behind AL East-leading New York after Toronto (69-63) scored 10 runs in the sixth inning of its 13-5 win Tuesday night.
Jose Bautista’s(notes) major league-leading 43rd home run was one of the Blue Jays’ three homers in the game, raising the team’s MLB-high total to 201 - the second time in team history they’ve had 200 homers by the end of August.
“They can really strike quick,” Rays manager Joe Maddon said. “That’s what they do. That’s who they are.”
Toronto has split its 14 meetings with the wild card-leading Rays this season, but has been held to three or fewer runs in 10 of those games, frustrated by a staff that ranks second in the AL with a 3.70 ERA.
“We have a tough time with those guys,” Blue Jays manager Cito Gaston said. “Anytime we can score that many runs off that team it’s always nice.”
Price (15-6, 3.01 ERA) has managed to quiet Toronto’s bats, going 5-0 with a 2.09 ERA in six career starts against the Blue Jays. This season, he has allowed one earned run - and no homers - in 23 innings, winning all three outings.
While Price has already set Tampa Bay’s single-season franchise record for victories, he’s looking to bolster a potential Cy Young Award candidacy with his first win since Aug. 9.
The 25-year-old southpaw has posted a 4.26 ERA and received limited run support in his last three outings, including a 3-1 loss to Boston on Friday. Price allowed a season-high 10 hits, including two solo home runs by Victor Martinez(notes).
“He’s a good hitter,” Price said. “It’s frustrating, but it’s part of it. You move on.”
Entering this season, Marcum was 2-0 with a 0.75 ERA in four outings against Tampa Bay, but the right-hander has yielded 12 runs and 20 hits in 12 1-3 innings while losing his two 2010 matchups with Price and the Rays.
Marcum has been sharp lately, holding opponents to a .167 average while issuing three walks over 22 innings in his last three starts. He’s 1-1 with a 2.05 ERA in that stretch.
He can help Toronto win a series at Tropicana Field for the first time since April 6-8, 2007, but beating Tampa Bay has been a difficult task for most opposing pitchers lately. The Rays averaged more than five runs while winning 12 of 17 to close August.
They may get a boost from some new additions with rosters set to expand Wednesday. Outfielder Rocco Baldelli(notes), who began his major league career with the Rays in 2003, is expected to return to the club and see his first big league action of 2010.
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