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News » Blue Jays-Rays Preview 2008-08-27

Blue Jays-Rays Preview 2008-08-27

Blue Jays-Rays Preview 2008-08-27
Tampa Bay's Matt Garza has pitched extremely well in all three starts against the Toronto Blue Jays this season.

The AL East-leading Rays, looking to avoid matching their longest home losing streak of the season, could use another strong outing from him.

Garza takes the mound Wednesday when Tampa Bay continues its three-game series against the Blue Jays.

The Rays' lead in the AL East was sliced to 3 1/2 games over Boston with a 6-2 loss to the Blue Jays (68-63) on Tuesday. Toronto ace Roy Halladay allowed two runs over six innings, and the Rays (79-51) were limited to seven hits while managing their fewest runs scored in eight games.

Halladay told the Blue Jays' official Web site he's impressed by how Tampa Bay has dealt with injuries to Evan Longoria (fractured right wrist) and Carl Crawford (finger injury).

"They still have players in there who have got the job done," he said. "Even with them out of there, I think you kind of keep in mind that the way they've been playing, there's no letdown, regardless of who's in there."

Tampa Bay has the best home record in the AL (47-19) due mostly to strong pitching at Tropicana Field. Garza has played a big role in that success, going 6-2 with a 2.72 ERA in 12 home starts this season.

The Rays have a 3.11 ERA at home - lowest in the AL - but they've allowed a combined 11 runs in their last two home losses, and they have a 4.56 ERA in their last eight contests at Tropicana Field.

The AL East leaders, who haven't lost three in a row at home since April 14-18, are coming off back-to-back losses for only the second time since the All-Star break.

Garza (10-7, 3.71 ERA) has been outstanding against the Blue Jays this season, going 2-1 with a 0.39 ERA in three starts. He hasn't allowed a run in either of his last two outings versus Toronto, limiting the Blue Jays to seven hits in 16 2-3 innings while walking one and striking out 11.

The right-hander tossed a five-hitter in a 3-0 victory at Toronto on July 29 in his most recent appearance against them.

Garza lasted 6 2-3 innings on Wednesday against the Los Angeles Angels, allowing four runs and seven hits in his club's 5-4 loss.

Toronto has relied on strong pitching to win nine of its last 13 games. The Blue Jays' staff has a 3.13 ERA during that span with the starters going 9-2 with a 3.24 ERA.

Leading the way offensively for Toronto lately is Vernon Wells, who is hitting .643 (9-for-14) with four homers and nine RBIs in his last three games.

Rookie David Purcey (2-4, 6.55) makes his eighth start of the season for the Blue Jays. The left-hander struggled in a 5-1 loss to the New York Yankees on Wednesday, yielding five runs and seven hits over four innings of a 5-1 loss.

"I was rushing and it was a quick night," he said. "I was just a little too anxious. I was trying to do too much on the mound."

This will be Purcey's first appearance against the Rays.

Toronto has won back-to-back games at Tropicana Field following seven straight losses there.

Author:Fox Sports
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Added: August 27, 2008

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