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Preview: Rays at Blue Jays

Current Conditions – Toronto
P/SUNNY 75 °F
Wind: NW 15
5-Day Forecast GAME: Tampa Bay Rays (75-78) at Toronto Blue Jays (87-65)
DATE/TIME: Friday, September 25 – 7:07 PM EST
WHERE: Rogers Centre, Toronto, Ontario
LINE: N/A TOTAL: N/A

The Tampa Bay Rays are standing in the way as the Toronto Blue Jays attempt to clinch a playoff spot for the first time in 22 years. The Blue Jays lead the second-place New York Yankees by three games in the American League East and will meet the Rays six times in the final 10 contests of the regular season, starting with the first three in Toronto beginning Friday.

Toronto’s magic number to clinch at least a wild card is two and the Blue Jays have not played a postseason game since 1993, when they won the World Series. AL MVP front-runner Josh Donaldson, who leads the majors with 120 RBIs, looks to help turn around his team’s fortunes around against Tampa Bay. The Rays come in off taking three of four at Boston and own eight victories in 13 games against Toronto in 2015 after winning the season series six of the previous seven years. Tampa Bay’s Evan Longoria is 11-for-25 during a six-game hitting streak and is batting .349 against the Blue Jays this season.

TV: 7:07 p.m. ET, Sun Sports (Tampa Bay), Sportsnet (Toronto)

PITCHING MATCHUP: Rays RH Jake Odorizzi (8-8, 3.38 ERA) vs. Blue Jays RH R.A. Dickey (10-11, 4.05)

Odorizzi allowed four runs and eight hits across 5 2/3 innings without factoring into the decision against Baltimore last time out after winning his previous two starts. The 25-year-old has had more problems with command than usual of late with 10 walks in his past five outings after issuing 31 in his first 21 turns. Jose Bautista is 0-for-11 against Odorizzi, who is 2-1 (1-1 in 2015) with a 3.45 ERA in five career starts versus Toronto.

Dickey is winless in his last three starts, but allowed two or fewer runs in two of them after going 7-0 in the previous 10 starts. John Jaso is 3-for-7 and Asdrubal Cabrera 6-for-16 with two homers versus the 40-year-old knuckleballer, who is 0-3 with a 4.94 ERA in four starts against the Rays this season. Dickey has been outstanding at home this season, posting an 8-3 record with a 3.15 ERA and a .199 batting average against.

WALK-OFFS

1. Tampa Bay INF Tim Beckham is 10-for-26 with a pair of homers and seven RBIs in nine games against the Blue Jays in 2015.

2. Bautista has five hits – four of them homers – in 33 official at-bats against the Rays this season.

3. The Rays are 38-37 on the road this season – 4-3 at Toronto – and stand only 37-41 at home.

PREDICTION: Blue Jays 5, Rays 3