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Reply To: MLB Previews, Articles, Info, etc, Friday 10/2/15

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Preview: Blue Jays at Rays

GAME: Toronto Blue Jays (92-67) at Tampa Bay Rays (78-81)
DATE/TIME: Friday, October 02 – 7:10 PM EST
WHERE: Tropicana Field, St. Petersburg, Florida
LINE: N/A TOTAL: N/A

While the Toronto Blue Jays are getting themselves ready for the playoffs, the Tampa Bay Rays have a chance to climb back to .500 this weekend. The American League East champion Blue Jays visit Tampa Bay on Friday to begin a season-ending, three-game set after the teams split their first 16 meetings in 2015.

Toronto manager John Gibbons rested his key players while losing the last two games after clinching the division, but will likely get many of them back in the lineup for the final series. The Blue Jays are tied with Kansas City in the race for homefield advantage throughout the AL playoffs and shortstop Troy Tulowitzki (shoulder, back) could return this weekend after missing almost three weeks. The Rays (78-81) come in off a three-game sweep of Miami and have won six of their last nine overall. Grady Sizemore is making a strong case for a new contract with 10 hits in 21 at-bats and 10 RBIs during a seven-game hitting streak for Tampa Bay.

TV: 7:10 p.m. ET, SNET (Toronto), Sun Sports (Tampa Bay)

PITCHING MATCHUP: Blue Jays LH Mark Buehrle (14-7, 3.76 ERA) vs. Rays RH Erasmo Ramirez (11-6, 3.65)

Buehrle failed in his last four tries to reach 15 victories for the first time since 2008 with the Chicago White Sox while allowing 14 runs over 20 1/3 innings combined. The 36-year-old yielded four runs across six frames against Tampa Bay last Sunday in a no-decision and is 1-1 with a 6.11 ERA in three starts versus the Rays in 2015. Sizemore owns four homers against Buehrle, who is 11-6 with a 4.25 ERA in 31 games (26 starts) versus Tampa Bay.

Ramirez ended a six-game winless stretch by holding Boston to two runs and four hits over seven solid innings last time out on Sept. 24. The 25-year-old Nicaraguan has gone at least seven innings in each of his last three starts, permitting four runs combined, and has 28 strikeouts with two walks total in his past five starts. Kevin Pillar is 3-for-5 with a pair of doubles against Ramirez, who is 0-1 with a 7.50 ERA in three starts versus Toronto this year.

WALK-OFFS

1. Tampa Bay CF Kevin Kiermaier has recorded multiple hits in five of his last nine games and is 17-for-51 against the Blue Jays this season.

2. Toronto C Dioner Navarro has hit safely in eight straight contests and Pillar is 16-for-27 during a seven-game hit streak.

3. Tampa Bay RHP Brad Boxberger saved all three games in the Miami series to take over the AL lead with 41.

PREDICTION: Rays 5, Blue Jays 4