|Rays look to continue dominance of Jays|
The Tampa Bay Rays will open their seven-game homestand Monday afternoon against a team they have dominated, the Toronto Blue Jays.
The Rays won two out of three from the Blue Jays in Toronto April 12-14 in the first series between the American League East rivals. The Rays were 13-6 against the Blue Jays last season, including 7-2 at Tropicana Field.
The Rays have not lost a series to the Blue Jays since going 1-3 in a four-game set Aug. 14-17, 2017 at Toronto. Tampa Bay is 7-0-1 in series against Toronto since and has won the season series in nine of the past 11 years.
Blue Jays manager Charlie Montoyo spent four seasons on the coaching staff of Rays manager Kevin Cash before being hired by Toronto last Oct 25.
The Blue Jays will start right-hander Aaron Sanchez (3-4, 3.79 ERA) Monday, while the Rays are expected to start right-hander Yonny Chirinos (5-1, 3.20).
Sanchez was 1-1 with a 4.66 ERA in two starts against the Rays last season and is 2-2 with a 1.95 ERA against them in 15 career appearances (seven starts).
Chirinos is 1-0 with a 4.50 ERA in three career relief appearances against the Blue Jays. Monday will be his 11th appearance and fifth start this season.
The Rays used Ryne Stanek as an opener Sunday, and he went 1 2/3 innings in a 6-3 victory over the Cleveland Indians that gave them the series 3-1.
The Blue Jays also won Sunday, defeating the San Diego Padres 10-1 to end a four-game losing streak.
They feasted on a procession of relievers after scheduled Padres starter Chris Paddack was scratched because of a stiff neck.
The Blue Jays had two home runs and five RBIs from Justin Smoak, four hits and a homer from Lourdes Gurriel Jr. and the first three major league hits, including a home run, from Cavan Biggio in his third game since his promotion from Triple-A Buffalo.
"You just want to get that first hit, and you want to get that monkey off your back," Biggio said. "After I got that first hit in my first at-bat, I felt like I could finally exhale and finally just play the game."
Both the Rays and the Blue Jays have made adjustments to their pitching.
The Rays recalled Oliver Drake, who pitched for five teams, including the Blue Jays, last season, and optioned Casey Sadler to Triple-A Durham.
The Blue Jays called up Jacob Waguespack from Triple-A Buffalo and put Tim Mayza (left ulnar neuritis) on the injured list.
Drake pitched 1 2/3 innings Sunday for the Rays, allowing a solo home run.
"You look at his Triple-A numbers, his strikeout-to-walk ratio has been outstanding," Cash said.
Drake, 32, logged 10 innings with the Rays in spring training after they claimed him, designated him for assignment in November and then purchased him back from Toronto in January.
In 19 games at Triple-A this year, he had 40 strikeouts, seven walks and a 4.94 ERA in 23 2/3 innings.
"I don't think we saw the best of Oliver Drake in spring training," Cash said. "He got on a nice run. Hopefully, we can catch some of his momentum, and he can come in and get some big outs for us."
Waguespack, who has yet to pitch in the majors, was 2-6 with a 5.86 ERA in nine starts with Buffalo.
He was acquired last July from the Philadelphia Phillies in exchange for Aaron Loup.
--Field Level Media