|10:10 AM PT11:10 AM MT12:10 PM CT1:10 PM ET13:10 ET17:10 GMT1:10 10:10 AM MST12:10 PM EST12:40 PM VEN21:10 UAE12:10 PM CT, June 13, 2018
Tropicana Field, St. Petersburg, Florida Attendance: 10,847
Happ hopes to exorcise Trop demons as Rays host Jays
Toronto Blue Jays at Tampa Bay Rays
- The Blue Jays are coming off a four-game sweep of the Orioles in which they recorded 56 totals hits. That is tied for the second-most hits by Toronto, in a four-game series, in franchise history (58 vs. Angels from April 17-20, 2000).
- After winning five straight games in late May, the Rays have lost nine of 10, including three of four against Seattle in their most recent series. All three of Tampa's losses in that Seattle series were by one run, and their 17 one-run losses are the most in baseball.
- Ryan Yarbrough will start for the fourth time this season, and the first time since May 14. Yarbrough's last four appearances have been from the bullpen, and he has gone at least 5.0 innings in each of those appearances. That is most consecutive relief appearances with at least 5.0 innings pitched since Eddie Hommel had six straight from July 10- September 5, 1932 for the Philadelphia Athletics.
- Sam Gaviglio is coming off a no-decision against the Yankees in which he scattered three hits and three walks in 7.0 shutout innings. It was the longest start of Gaviglio's career in terms of innings (7.0) and number of pitches (104).
- In Toronto's 13-3 victory against Baltimore yesterday, leadoff hitter Curtis Granderson went 4-for-5 with a home run and six RBI. It was the most RBI by any leadoff man in a game this season, and is tied for the most by a leadoff hitter in Blue Jays franchise history (Damaso Garcia on May 10, 1985 vs. Seattle Mariners).
- C.J. Cron has hit a home run in three of his past four games, and has 15 total on the season through 62 games. Cron's career high in home runs is 16, which he has reached exactly for the past three seasons.
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ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- Tropicana Field has not been kind to J.A. Happ.
Five years ago, Happ took a line drive directly to his head, hitting him behind his left ear and fracturing his skull. He fell to the ground hard enough that he strained ligaments in his knee, and it would be three months before he returned to the mound.
Happ will start for Toronto in Thursday's series finale, and while he's been back to the Trop nine times since his injury there, he's won only once, in that same 2013 season, in just his third game back from injury.
Happ is off to a solid 8-3 start with a 3.71 ERA, and he's 4-0 in his last five starts, taking a full run off his season ERA along the way. One of his three losses this season came against the Rays, giving up three runs on four hits in 5 2/3 innings in a May 4 loss where he walked more batters (four) than he struck out (three). On Friday against Baltimore, he was especially sharp, throwing seven innings and allowing only two hits and a single unearned run.
And while he's struggled at Tropicana Field, his overall career numbers against the Rays are better, with a 3-4 record and 5.05 ERA -- he has just one win in 10 appearances against Tampa Bay over the last four seasons.
Tampa Bay, trying to push through a rash of injuries to its starting pitching, continues to experiment regularly with "openers," using relievers as part of bullpen days to start about half their games in recent weeks. Nowhere is the Rays' desperation more glaring than with Thursday's starter, Wilmer Font, who is already playing for his third team this season.
Font pitched six games with the Dodgers, then four with the Athletics, and he's now made five appearances with the Rays. He's 0-3 on the season with a 9.59 ERA, but in his five games with Tampa Bay, he's fared much better, with a 3.24 ERA and 0-1 record. In those five games, he's thrown 8 1/3 innings, allowing three earned runs on five hits. In his last outing, also a makeshift start, he lasted into the third inning Friday against Seattle, but gave up two runs on two hits, getting five of his seven outs via strikeout.
Font has actually faced Toronto already this season while with Oakland -- staked with the ninth inning and a 9-0 lead, he gave up a two-run home run to Yangervis Solarte.
The two American League East rivals went into Wednesday's game within a half-game of each other in the standings, still well ahead of last-place Baltimore.
Toronto gets Thursday off before beginning an interleague stretch at home, with three games against the Nationals, then two against the Braves. The Rays, meanwhile, go on the road for the next week, with four games at the Yankees and three at the Astros, then returning home with seven of their next nine again against the Yankees and Astros.
Updated June 12, 2018