|4:10 PM PT5:10 PM MT6:10 PM CT7:10 PM ET19:10 ET23:10 GMT7:10 4:10 PM MST6:10 PM EST6:40 PM VEN3:10 UAE (+1)6:10 PM CT, September 5, 2019
Tropicana Field, St. Petersburg, Florida Attendance: 5,962
Rays continue to seek wild-card spot versus Blue Jays
With less than a month to play, the objectives for the Tampa Bay Rays and Toronto Blue Jays could not be any more different.
The Rays will look to continue their march towards an American League wild-card spot Thursday night, when they host the rebuilding Blue Jays, who are in the midst of an extended stretch of trying to play spoiler against a series of contending teams.
Right-hander Austin Pruitt (2-0, 4.78 ERA) is expected to start for the Rays against Blue Jays right-hander Trent Thornton (4-9, 5.34) in the first contest of a four-game series.
Both teams were off Wednesday. The host Rays split a doubleheader Tuesday with the Baltimore Orioles, dropping the opener 4-2 before seven pitchers combined on a five-hit shutout in a 2-0 win in the nightcap. The teams were scheduled to play Wednesday before the forecast for Hurricane Dorian forced Tuesday's doubleheader.
The visiting Blue Jays completed a two-game sweep at the hands of the Atlanta Braves with a 7-2 loss on Tuesday.
By splitting the doubleheader Tuesday, the Rays (82-59) remained atop the AL wild-card race. Tampa Bay entered Wednesday a game ahead of the Oakland Athletics and Cleveland Indians, who were in a virtual tie for the second wild-card spot.
"We put together games like that as a group with seven guys, that's pretty impressive," said Rays pitcher Emilio Pagan, who earned the save in the second game. "We're a confident group, and if we keep throwing the ball like that, we're going to put ourselves in a pretty good spot. Today was fun to watch."
The Blue Jays (55-85) are trying to salvage something from final weeks of the campaign by facing numerous teams vying for a playoff spot. Toronto is in the midst of a season-ending stretch in which it will play 26 of its last 35 games against contenders.
The Blue Jays are 2-8 thus far against the Braves, Los Angeles Dodgers and Houston Astros, though five of the defeats have been by three runs or fewer. After visiting Tampa Bay, Toronto will play two more series against the New York Yankees and one apiece against the Rays and Boston Red Sox.
"We're getting better," Blue Jays manager Charlie Montoyo said Tuesday. "We're competing with the best teams in baseball and we're there in every game. Whether we win or lose, we're in every game, and that's what I want. It's good for these kids that we're playing the best teams in September."
Pruitt made his first start of the season following 10 relief appearances last Friday, when he didn't factor into the decision after throwing 5 1/3 scoreless innings in the Rays' 4-0 win over the Cleveland Indians. Thornton took the loss Friday, when he gave up four runs (three earned) over five innings as the Blue Jays fell to the Astros 7-4.
Pruitt is 2-0 with a 4.29 ERA in eight career appearances (one start) against the Blue Jays. Thornton is 0-1 with an 11.12 ERA in three starts against the Rays.
--Field Level Media
Updated September 4, 2019