Rays hope to sweep Jays, run winning streak to 11 games

MLB

For the second time in their 24 years of existence, the Tampa Bay Rays extended a winning streak to double digits over the weekend.

Now they will try to take it to 11 games.

After rallying for their 10th straight win Sunday, the longest active streak in the majors, the Rays will try to complete the sweep of their four-game series against the host Toronto Blue Jays on Monday afternoon in Dunedin, Fla.

Sunday’s wild ninth inning — featuring just two hits and five walks, three of them forcing in the last three runs in the 6-4 comeback — helped Tampa Bay win its third consecutive series.

Tampa Bay’s pitching was strong when it needed to be in Friday’s opener, overwhelming on Saturday and solid enough in the rally.

Sunday’s matinee win was more about keeping the club in a contest that was knotted 2-2 through seven innings against Blue Jays lefty ace Hyun Jin Ryu.

However, unlike Toronto’s bullpen, which imploded and gave it all away in the ninth, the Rays’ hurlers have remained focused and Tampa Bay’s lone reliable asset — even in the truly lean times when it was 5-8 and a season-worst three games under .500 on April 15.

The win pulled the club into a tie with the Boston Red Sox atop the American League East — both with 29-19 records.

“Our pitching (has been) outstanding,” Rays manager Kevin Cash said. “Pretty spectacular the way they’re limiting a very good Toronto offense.”

Ryan Yarbrough (2-3, 4.24 ERA) will make his sixth start and 10th overall appearance in Monday’s finale. In five starts and eight relief outings against Toronto all-time, the left-hander is 6-1 with a 2.21 ERA with opponents batting .222.

The Blue Jays will be looking for any way to get back on track and made a change Monday morning, opting to go with right-hander Trent Thornton (1-1, 2.70 ERA) as the opener over scheduled starter Ross Stripling. Thornton has faced the Rays seven times (six starts) in his career and is 1-1 with a 5.87 ERA in 23 innings pitched.

The contest will be the Blue Jays’ final home game at their spring training home in Dunedin, as the club will move to Buffalo and play at its Triple-A affiliate’s park — another bandbox that Toronto used in 2020’s 60-game campaign.

The Canadian team’s first home game in upstate New York is June 1 when it hosts the Miami Marlins to open a two-game series.

In his May 7 start at Houston — another venue prone to numerous homers and big innings — Stripling was roughed up for three runs, six hits and three walks while throwing 3 2/3 innings in the 82-pitch effort, which led to a 10-4 Astros victory.

“Everything has got to get a little bit sharper if I expect to have success and keep my job as a starter in the big leagues,” Stripling said after the Houston defeat.

During a six-year career in the majors, he has made 67 starts overall and holds a 23-30 mark with a 3.96 ERA, with the opposition producing a .259 batting average.

–Field Level Media

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