The visiting Tampa Bay Rays and the Toronto Blue Jays will be out to reverse recent setbacks Friday night when the American League East rivals open a three-game series in Buffalo.
The Rays have lost three in a row, including a 15-6 trouncing by the host Washington Nationals on Wednesday. They had won their previous four games.
While Tampa Bay had Thursday off, the Blue Jays lost to the Seattle Mariners 7-2, they second defeat in a row. They are 4-3 through the first seven games of a 10-game homestand.
Despite the two losses, the Blue Jays are 8-3 after losing five straight June 14-18.
“The last couple of games our starters have struggled, and when your starters struggle, you’re behind,” Blue Jays manager Charlie Montoyo said. “We were (8-1) until the last two days, so we have been playing well.”
The Rays will recall right-hander Luis Patino (1-1, 3.60 ERA) from Triple-A Durham to start the opener. The Blue Jays will start right-hander Alek Manoah (1-0, 3.34), who has completed a five-game suspension.
Patino posted 17 consecutive scoreless innings over his past four starts for Durham.
His first major league outing of the season came against the Blue Jays on April 25 at St. Petersburg, Fla., when he allowed only one walk and struck out three in 2 2/3 innings as the starter. The Blue Jays won the game 1-0.
He made five appearances for the Rays before going on the injured list with a cut middle finger. He was optioned to Durham on May 30.
“We have really just hammered the same mantra that the major league club has given him — trust your stuff,” Triple-A pitching coach Rick Knapp told the Tampa Bay Times. “He has had a very good awareness of his usage and percentages. He has had good command of his off-speed (pitches) as well and identifying when and where to use it. At the same time not being too predictable or too fine.”
Manoah will be facing the Rays for the first time in his career. He is 1-0 with a 2.53 ERA in four starts against AL East teams.
He was suspended five games for hitting the Baltimore Orioles’ Maikel Franco with a pitch in the fourth inning on June 19 after allowing home runs to the previous two batters. The benches emptied, and Manoah was ejected. He appealed the suspension, then dropped the appeal after pitching six solid innings against the Orioles on June 25.
The Rays hope Patino can bolster a rotation that has Tyler Glasnow (elbow) and Josh Fleming (calf) on the injured list. Patino’s start will provide extra rest for the three left-handers in the rotation: Shane McClanahan, who will pitch Saturday; Ryan Yarbrough, who will pitch Sunday; and Rich Hill, who will face the Cleveland Indians on Monday.
Rays right-handed reliever Ryan Thompson (shoulder) landed on the injured list retroactive to Monday.
“He’s been used pretty heavily,” Tampa Bay manager Kevin Cash said. “He’s been so valuable to us. (We) felt like he probably needs to rest this thing, get some treatment. Obviously shut him down for a little bit, then see how we build him back up.”
Left-hander Ryan Sherriff, called up from Triple-A on Wednesday, allowed four runs in one-third of an inning and took the loss that day, then was sent back down.
–Field Level Media