Tampa Bay Rays (24-21) at Toronto Blue Jays (18-27)
Wednesday, May 22 - 4:37 PM EST
Rogers Centre, Toronto, Ontario
Fans in the outfield seats may find themselves busy when the Toronto Blue Jays host the Tampa Bay Rays on Wednesday afternoon in the rubber match of their three-game series. Toronto starter Mark Buehrle and Tampa Bay counterpart Jeremy Hellickson are among the American League leaders in home runs allowed, setting the stage for a possible slugfest between AL East rivals. Toronto won the opener 7-5 and the Rays responded with a 4-3 victory Tuesday night.
Like most of Tampa Bay's adversaries in May, the Blue Jays have had no answer for Rays slugger Evan Longoria. The All-Star third baseman extended his hitting streak to 15 games Tuesday night, recording a pair of hits for the second straight day. Longoria is hitting .400 during the streak and has reached base in all but one game this season. Toronto star Jose Bautista went 2-for-3 and has five multi-hit efforts over his last eight games, raising his average to .254.
TV: 4:37 p.m. ET, SUN (Tampa Bay), RSN (Toronto)
PITCHING MATCHUP: Rays RH Jeremy Hellickson (2-2, 5.82 ERA) vs. Blue Jays LH Mark Buehrle (1-3, 6.33)
With Cy Young Award winner David Price on the shelf with a triceps injury and James Shields dealt to Kansas City in the offseason, the Rays desperately need Hellickson to return to form. The 26-year-old has struggled for most of the season, surrendering 10 home runs over 55 2/3 innings. He has been particularly ineffective over his last two starts, charged with 14 runs over 14 2/3 innings in that span. Hellickson is 3-2 with a 3.19 ERA in seven starts against Toronto.
Buehrle was one of the most homer-prone hurlers in baseball over a four-game stretch beginning a month ago, but has kept the ball in the park over his last two starts. It wasn't good enough last time out, as he allowed five runs over six innings en route to a 5-0 loss in New York. Buehrle is 8-3 with a 4.56 ERA in 102 2/3 innings against Tampa Bay, and picked up a no-decision after getting tagged for seven runs over six innings in their last encounter May 6.
1. Longoria is 6-for-18 with a home run and four RBIs against Buehrle.
2. The season series is tied at three wins apiece.
3. Hellickson is 1-2 with a 6.46 ERA in five road starts.
PREDICTION: Blue Jays 6, Rays 4