Rays at Jays, seeking a sweep with a different look
UPDATE,1:02: Maddon said he came up with this lineup for several reasons, primarily the incredibly good numbers Jays starter Marcum has against lefty hitters, better than David Price and Cliff Lee. ... Plus it was a chance to get Carl Crawford off the turf in advance of a six-game homestand. ... Expect the Rays switch-hitters, Dioner Navarro and Ben Zobrist, to bat righthanded against Marcum. ... Crawford and Pena are available for late-inning duty. ... Also, Maddon said reports are that Hawpe is a good defensive first baseman, so they are taking a look at him there today (with an eye toward potential postseason roster issues) with Zobrist in right instead of the other way around. Maddon also thinks Hawpe is one lefty who can do well against Marcum.
UPDATE, 11:15: The Rays lineup will have quite a different look today with Carl Crawford and Carlos Pena off, Desmond Jennings in left and Brad Hawpe at first.
Here it is:
DEVELOPING: The Rays - who moved to within a 1/2 game of first place with the Yankees' loss late Saturday - are looking to wrap up their nine-game, 10-day roadtrip with a winning record this afternoon as they face the Blue Jays.
Jeff Niemann will be on the mound in what he acknowledges is a big start for him to show the Rays, and himself, that he can regain his early season form after a three-week stint on the DL. His first three starts since coming off haven't gone well, and there's some thought that the Rays could switch to Jeremy Hellickson if Niemann continues to struggle.
If the Rays do win today they will have their seventh winning road trip in 10 trips this season, and log their major-league leading 10th sweep.
Their 22 runs in the last two games mark the third time this season they have scored at least nine in back-to-back road games; they did that only four times in the first 12 years of franchise history according to the Elias Sports Bureau.