American League Preview from The Sports Network
Sunday, July 21st (All times Eastern)
Tampa Bay Rays (57-41) at Toronto Blue Jays (45-51), 1:07 p.m.
Probable Starting Pitchers: Tampa Bay - Chris Archer (4-3, 2.96) Toronto - R.A. Dickey (8-10, 4.69)
(Sports Network) - The hottest team in the American League East tries to complete the three-game sweep of the Toronto Blue Jays on Sunday afternoon as the Tampa Bay Rays aim for their fifth straight victory.
The Rays, who are in the midst of a 10-game road trip that sees them taking on Boston for four games and then the New York Yankees next weekend, have gone from winning 14 of their final 16 games in the first half of the campaign to picking up another two victories in Toronto, thanks to a narrow 4-3 decision on Saturday.
Wil Myers drove in two runs and Desmond Jennings accounted for three hits and a pair of runs scored for the Rays as they held on for a victory that now has them within 1 1/2 games of first place in the AL East, trailing only Boston in the standings.
Starting pitcher Jeremy Hellickson secured his ninth win in 12 decisions as he permitted two runs on five hits and three walks, while striking out three through five innings. Fernando Rodney did give up one run in the bottom of the ninth due to a fielding error, but still was credited with his 23rd save of the season.
Charged with the loss was Mark Buehrle after he yielded 10 hits, leading to four runs -- three earned -- through seven innings. Buehrle fanned five but also walked three in the setback.
"Everybody's trying, nobody can pinpoint what's going on," Buehrle said. "I can't pinpoint what's going on. It's frustrating. Everybody's out there trying to turn this around, trying to win games. It's just not happening right now."
Jose Bautista connected on his 22nd home run of the season, while Jose Reyes tallied a pair of hits and scored once for a Toronto group that is sitting in last place in the AL East, 12 1/2 games out, following their third consecutive defeat.
Seeking his third win in as many starts and his fourth victory in a row, Chris Archer is set to take the mound for the Rays this afternoon to close out the series.
Getting his first-ever look at Toronto batters during his second major league season, the right-hander is coming off a shutout in his most recent outing a week ago. Archer shut down the Houston Astros in a 5-0 victory as he allowed just five hits and struck out eight in the triumph.
A sixth-round draft pick by the Cleveland Indians in 2006, the North Carolina native has only been up with the big club since the beginning of June and has watched Tampa Bay come out on top in each of his last five appearances and six times in nine outings overall.
As for the Blue Jays, they are hoping R.A. Dickey can again find the magic that made him such a dominant pitcher with the New York Mets last year, when he turned in a Cy Young performance with a 20-6 record.
Dickey enters the second half of the season with a mark of 8-10 after losing his last two outings. The most recent of those appearances took place on July 11 versus Cleveland when he gave up three runs -- two earned -- on six hits and three walks. The right-handed knuckleballer made it through six innings and struck out seven.
Dickey won his most recent game against Tampa Bay back on June 26 as he threw a two-hit shutout on the road. For his career, the Tennessee native has a record of 3-2 with a 3.75 ERA in six starts and 10 total appearances.
Tampa Bay, which has won the season series each of the last three years, is now ahead by a count of 7-5 thanks to a fourth victory in the last five opportunities.
07/21 10:24:12 ET