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Rays aim to bounce back vs. Jays behind Corey Kluber

Jun 25, 2022; St. Petersburg, Florida, USA; Tampa Bay Rays starting pitcher Corey Kluber (28) throws a pitch in the first inning against the Pittsburgh Pirates at Tropicana Field. Mandatory Credit: Nathan Ray Seebeck-USA TODAY Sports
Credit: Nathan Ray Seebeck-USA TODAY Sports

After ending one streak, the visiting Tampa Bay Rays will be out to stop another on Friday afternoon against the Toronto Blue Jays in the second game of a five-game series.

The Rays played a team-record 14 consecutive games decided by one or two runs before losing 4-1 to the Blue Jays on Thursday in the series opener. They were 5-9 during that stretch. The previous club mark of games decided by one or two runs was nine in 2007.

Tampa Bay also would like to end a three-game losing streak. The Rays will send out right-hander Corey Kluber (3-4, 3.45 ERA) on Friday to oppose Blue Jays right-hander Jose Berrios (5-4, 5.86).

In five career starts against Tampa Bay, Berrios is 0-3 with a 5.76 ERA.

Kluber is 2-4 with a 4.50 ERA in 10 career starts against the Blue Jays,

The Blue Jays and Rays are 2-2 in their season series so far, as Tampa Bay took two of three at home in mid-May.

The series should be a challenge for both pitching staffs. The five games are being played over four days with a doubleheader on Saturday. The Blue Jays then will open a seven-game road trip with a three-game series against the Oakland Athletics that starts on Monday.

“You have to go game by game,” Blue Jays manager Charlie Montoyo said. “And not only the pitchers, the position players — that’s a lot of games, no days off and then go into Oakland with no days off and play there. We have to pay attention to everything, not just the pitching.”

Toronto’s Kevin Gausman will start one of the games of the doubleheader on Saturday. It is the right-hander’s choice as to which game he pitches. Montoyo did not know who would start the other game.

The game on Thursday was the first of an 11-game road trip for the Rays. The trek continues with three games against the Boston Red Sox and ends with three against the Cincinnati Reds.

“We’re going to have to come to play,” Rays infielder Taylor Walls said. “It’s going to be a dogfight. I think every series we are matched up with any AL East team is going to be that, so we’ve got to come ready. We will come ready. And we’re looking forward to it.”

The Rays hope to have outfielder Kevin Kiermaier (hip inflammation) back from the injured list on Friday. Right-hander Drew Rasmussen (hamstring strain) could return to the rotation this weekend.

Toronto’s Teoscar Hernandez continued his success against the Rays on Thursday with a two-run home run, a double and a single. He has 18 career home runs against Tampa Bay, tied with his 18 against the Red Sox for his most against an opponent.

Santiago Espinal also had a two-run homer for the Blue Jays. He had not hit a long ball since June 6 against the Kansas City Royals, a drought of 21 games.

Isaac Paredes hit his 11th home run of the season Thursday for the Rays. Over his past eight games, he is batting .429 (12-for-28) with two doubles, six homers and 10 RBIs.

The Rays put left-hander Brooks Raley and right-hander Ryan Thompson on the restricted list on Thursday because they did not meet Canadian COVID-19 vaccination requirements. Right-handers Javy Guerra and Phoenix Sanders were added as replacements.

Tampa Bay also placed left-hander Jeffrey Springs on the family medical emergency list and recalled left-hander Ryan Yarbrough from Triple-A Durham. Yarbrough allowed four runs in 5 1/3 innings on Thursday to take the loss.

–Field Level Media