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For starters, Rays-Jays, with frustration and division dreams

UPDATE, 6:22: Most of the pre-game talk concerned the All-Star Game, about the players who were chosen - SS Jason Bartlett, LF Carl Crawford, 3B Evan Longoria and INF/OF Ben Zobrist - and the one competing to join them, 1B Carlos Pena.

The Rays all wore their white Vote Los t-shirts for batting practice, and the Jays countered in support of their candidate for the final spot, with black Lind Your Vote shirts for Adam Lind. Voting continues through 4 p.m. Thursday on

Pena said he was thrilled and humbled by the all the attention. "It feels really good,'' he said. "I'm very grateful.''

Manager Joe Maddon said he was surprised at the lack of offense (which attributed to improvements by the Rangers in pitching and defense) and the number of mental errors during the sweep in Texas, and made it clear the Rays have to do better to reach their goal of winning the division and that he was not willing to look at the wild-card race.

"We just did not play well in Texas,'' he said. "I don't think you can blame pitching at all we just did not play that well. It was frustratrating and we've got to be better than that.

"I'm not saying you've got to win every game, but the sweep really is the part that kind of irks you a bit because we are the defending American League champs and we have high standards and goals set for this year and it's not to become the wild-card team - our goal is to win the division. And when you get swept like that, you look at our road record overall (18-26) it's not good, we've got to do a better job on the road ... and we can not let this sweeps occurr because they really set you back.'' 

NEWS: The Rays are looking to snap a four-game losing streak tonight with James Shields on the mound.
The lineup:
Upton, cf
Crawford, lf
Longoria, 3b
Pena, 1b
Zobrist, 2b
Burrell, dh
Bartlett, ss
Kapler, rf
Navarro, c
Shields, p

And for the Jays:

Scutaro, ss
Hill, 2b
Lind, dh
Rolen, 3b
Overbay, 1b
Wells, cf
Rios, rf
Dellucci, lf
Barajas, c
Rzepczynski, p

[Last modified: Monday, December 21, 2009 12:48am]


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