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American League Preview from The Sports Network
Thursday, April 3rd (All times Eastern)
Toronto Blue Jays (2-1) at Tampa Bay Rays (1-2), 7:10 p.m.
Probable Starting Pitchers: Toronto - Brandon Morrow (0-0, 0.00) Tampa Bay - Chris Archer (0-0, 0.00)
(Sports Network) - The Toronto Blue Jays will try to win their first series at Tropicana Field in nearly seven years on Thursday when they wrap up their season- opening four-game set against the Rays.
The Blue Jays haven't won a series in St. Petersburg, Fla., since taking two of three from the Rays from April 6-8, 2007, with Tampa Bay going 19-0-1 in series play since then.
Toronto has won two of the first three in this series and moved a step closer to ending the drought on Wednesday, as Mark Buehrle was masterful in his first start of the season and Jose Bautista blasted two home runs in the Blue Jays' 3-0 win.
Buehrle (1-0) walked one and allowed just four hits while fanning 11 over 8 2/3 innings of work. He missed out on his 29th career complete game by one out. Brett Lawrie couldn't reel in a Ben Zobrist line drive with two gone in the ninth, which sent Buehrle to the bench.
Reliever Sergio Santos walked Evan Longoria, then Brett Cecil fanned pinch- hitter Matt Joyce to earn his first save and finish off the shutout.
Nailing down that series win on Thursday may be easier said than done, though, as the Jays will have to get past righty Chris Archer, who finalized a six- year contract on Wednesday with the Rays that will pay him $25.5 million.
The money is a reward on the acumen he showed during his first full big-league season in 2013, when he was 9-7 with a 3.22 ERA in 23 starts - including a 4-0 stretch in July when his ERA plummeted to 0.73 in five starts.
"It's a contract, and its guaranteed money, but I think it's just the beginning of six or eight great years," Archer said. "It seems like this was the first team that I've ever really played for that really believed in me and was willing to wait an extra year or two for me to really turn into what I could possibly be."
Toronto is well aware of how good the 25-year-old Archer is, as he was 1-0 with a stingy 1.65 earned run average in three starts against it in 2013.
The Blue Jays, meanwhile, hope that Brandon Morrow can match Buehrle in his first start since being shut down in May after he'd started only 10 games. He was diagnosed with a forearm strain and ultimately was moved to the 60-day disabled list.
Morrow is 5-6 in 12 career starts against Tampa Bay with a 3.96 ERA.
He's won two of four career decisions at Tropicana Field while maintaining a 3.00 ERA in 30 innings.
Tampa won 11 of its 19 matchups with the Blue Jays last season.
The Rays' 148 wins over the Jays and their 84 wins at Tropicana Field are their most against any opponent.
04/03 10:26:01 ET
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