It’s Rays vs. Robbie Ray in series finale vs. Blue Jays

MLB

The visiting Tampa Bay Rays, who found a way to stifle the surging Toronto Blue Jays on Tuesday, will try for a repeat performance Wednesday afternoon in the rubber match of a three-game series.

The Rays used the old standby of pitching and defense on Tuesday to earn a 2-0 victory over the Blue Jays, who had won 15 of their previous 17 games.

Tampa Bay, which began the night with one win in its past five games, had five pitchers hold the Blue Jays to a total of three hits.

The only runs in the game came on homers. Ji-Man Choi hit his 10th of the season in the second inning, and Brandon Lowe socked his 34th in the eighth.

“It definitely felt very postseason-like,” Lowe said. “Every at-bat was tense, on both sides of the diamond.”

The Rays (90-55) lead the American League East by nine games and hold a 9-6 edge in the season series with the Blue Jays (81-64).

Left-hander Robbie Ray (11-5, 2.69 ERA) will start Wednesday for the Blue Jays. He has faced Tampa Bay four times this season, going 1-1 with a 2.00 ERA. In six career outings against the Rays, he is 1-2 with a 2.68 ERA.

Right-hander Michael Wacha (3-4, 5.37 ERA) will get the start for the Rays. He pitched two scoreless innings in one appearance against the Blue Jays this season. In two career outings against them, he is 0-0 with a 2.25 ERA.

The Blue Jays won the series opener 8-1 on Monday, so shutting them down twice in a row might be difficult.

Rays manager Kevin Cash said of Toronto, “That’s a very, very solid lineup, a good lineup that is swinging the bat very, very well coming into the series, and they kind of continued that momentum that they’ve created getting back here at home.”

Before being shut out for only the third time this season, the Blue Jays had recorded 10 or more hits in six straight games.

The Blue Jays slashed .331/.410/.636 with 36 home runs in their first 13 games in September. Their plus-58 run differential was the best of any 13-game span in franchise history.

“I won’t say I expected something like this, but I mentioned it in August when we kind of cooled down and we weren’t hitting that much,” Blue Jays manager Charlie Montoyo said before the Tuesday game. “I said, ‘We’re going to hit again, I just don’t know when it’s going to start.’ It has been impressive. I wasn’t expecting 22 runs (in a game), 11 runs in one inning and all that stuff, but it has been impressive for me to watch.”

Jose Berrios, the Blue Jays’ starter on Tuesday, left the game after seven innings due to left abdominal tightness. He allowed one run and four hits in a tough-luck loss.

“He felt something on his side,” Montoyo said. “Of course, he was doing a great job. We’ll see how it feels (Wednesday).”

Rays pitchers wound up recording their 11th shutout of the season.

Before the Tuesday game, Tampa Bay right-handers Shawn Armstrong and David Hess cleared waivers and were assigned outright to Triple-A Durham.

–Field Level Media

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