Kazmir's start pushed back to Monday
Update 5:55 p.m. Ace LHP Scott Kazmir will make his first start of the second half of the season on Monday, his outing pushed back two days by the Rays who wanted to err on the side of caution after Kazmir's innning of work in the All-Star game.
Matt Garza will start Saturday, with Edwin Jackson going Sunday.
*In other pre-game news, Rays owner Stu Sternberg - in attendance for this weekend's series - gave a brief, five-minute speech to the Rays before batting practice.
Though he didn't go into detail on his talk, Sternberg said afterward that baseball is a cyclical game - in respect to the recent seven-game losing streak - and that he's been proud of what the club has accomplished so far.
"You look at them one at a time," Sternberg said. "There were a number of games in there that we got beat but we played very well. There were a couple games we had an opportunity to win - and we've been fortunate to be on the other side of alot of those games this year. It's gonna happen. The game flows and ebbs..If we had won two of them, we're 2-5 and it wouldn't be as much of an issue."
Sternberg, who said his visit was planned far in advance, said the club is looking to be "opportunistic" at the trade deadline, but reiterated the Rays won't force any move.
*Closer Troy Percival said he's feeling great, though he'll get checked out by Dr Koco Eaton before tonight's game for further re-evaluation. SS Jason Bartlett is improving as well, but the exact date of his return is still in question.
The Rays, refreshed from the All-Star break, will try to snap their seven-game losing streak tonight against the Jays.
The second-place Rays begin a stretch of six straight games at home, where they are 36-14 this season.
They are likely to throw out their top three pitchers in the three-game set vs the Jays, with James Shields going tonight, Matt Garza Saturday against All-Star Roy Halladay. It will likely be decided this afternoon whether ace Scott Kazmir starts Sunday or Monday, as the club pushed his first outing of the second half back due to his appearance in the All-Star game.
RHP Al Reyes, who's been on the disabled list for over a month, will be activated before today's game and could see his first action since June 9.
With large crowds expected, the Rays have activated the Baseball Shuttle System for Friday and Saturday, picking up fans at Central and Second St S.. Judging by the current rainstorm downtown, it might not be a bad idea...
(Pictured: Scott Kazmir. Photo -- Getty Images. Click to enlarge.)
-- JOE SMITH