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Rays Return To Toronto To Take On Jose Bautista And the Blue Jays

The Tampa Bay Rays (24-18) head north again as the club tries to maintain their two-game lead in the American League East division. The Toronto Blue Jays (21-20) will conversely be fighting to stay above .500. The Blue Jays come into the game having won 6 straight games, with not-little help from slugging outfielder Jose Bautista, who already has 16 homers this year.

Today, the Rays send young right-hander Jeremy Hellickson (4-2, 2.98 ERA, 4.01 FIP) to the mound. In his previous start, Hellickson twirled a complete game shutout against the Baltimore Orioles, but advanced statistics (like FIP) suggest "Hellboy" may be playing a little over his head at this point. Hopefully, he can improve his strikeout-to-walk ratio tonight and prove himself capable of dominating all year long.

Meanwhile, Toronto will be sending out their young right hander, Jesse Litsch (4-2, 4.14 ERA, 3.97 FIP), who presently sits at the opposite end of the regression seesaw. Litsch, who sports a mediocre 4.14 ERA, appears to have had some poor luck on home runs this year and could just as easily have a 3.40ish ERA this season had a few homers not snuck out (per xFIP).

If the Rays want to win this first game of the series, though, they will need to absolutely consider giving Jose Bautista the Barry Bonds treatmant: An intentional walk each time. Or maybe a fastball to the thigh.

Photographs by cstreet.us, thelastminute, turtlemom nancy , fesek, kthypryn, justinwright, sue_elias, pointnshoot, and scrapstothefuture used in background montage under Creative Commons. Thank you.