The Toronto Blue Jays will attempt to clinch their five-game set with the visiting Tampa Bay Rays during the fourth contest on Wednesday night.
The teams split a day-night doubleheader Tuesday with the Rays taking the opener 4-2 and the Blue Jays winning the second game 7-2. Toronto captured the series opener 3-2 on Monday.
The Blue Jays (80-62) hold the top American League wild-card position, a half-game ahead of both the Rays (79-62) and the Seattle Mariners (79-62).
The Rays lead the season series with the Blue Jays 7-6, a key footnote as head-to-head results will be the first tiebreaker if the teams end up with the same record.
Blue Jays right-hander Kevin Gausman, who will start the series finale on Thursday, said of the Rays, “They’re a team that throws a lot of different looks at you, they wheel out a lot of different pitchers, and going in, you know that more often than not it’s going to be a low-scoring game.
“That’s why it’s one pitch here or one pitch there that decides it. Good teams this year find ways to win those kinds of games. They’re tough. They play playoff baseball all year long. They have guys who are ready to go at any given moment because that’s the way they play.”
Toronto right-hander Ross Stripling (7-4, 3.03 ERA) and Tampa Bay right-hander Drew Rasmussen (10-4, 2.57) are the scheduled starters for Wednesday.
Stripling is 0-3 with a 4.13 ERA in eight career games (three starts) against Tampa Bay. He lost his lone appearance against the Rays this year after yielding four runs (three earned) on seven hits in 4 2/3 innings on July 3.
Rasmussen is 1-1 with a 1.59 ERA in six career outings (five starts) against the Blue Jays, including 1-0 with a 0.93 ERA in two starts at Toronto. He last faced the Blue Jays on Aug. 2 at St. Petersburg, Fla., taking the loss despite allowing only one run on six hits in six innings.
The Rays put Brandon Lowe on the injured list between games Tuesday because of back discomfort. The second baseman missed two months earlier this season due to a stress reaction in his back, and more recently he was sidelined because of an elbow/triceps ailment.
Rays manager Kevin Cash said regarding how long Lowe might be out, “I really don’t know quite yet. We sent him home. … Until he sees our doctors, we won’t have much.”
Tampa Bay’s Jonathan Aranda led off the seventh inning in Game 2 on Tuesday with his first career major league homer. He extended his hitting streak to six games, a span in which he is 6-for-15 (.400) with two doubles, a homer and two RBIs.
Rays right-hander Kevin Herget entered Game 2 with one out in the seventh inning to make his major league debut. He allowed two runs in 1 2/3 innings.
George Springer hit a two-run home run for Toronto earlier in the seventh inning of Game 2. It was his 20th of the season and his first since Aug. 28, a span of 15 games.
Rays right-hander Yonny Chirinos, making his first start and second outing after an absence of more than two years while undergoing Tommy John surgery, pitched four scoreless innings in Game 2.
Ji-Man Choi homered off Blue Jays right-hander Alek Manoah in the third inning of Game 2, ending a six-game homerless streak for the Rays. It was his first long ball since Aug. 26.
–Field Level Media