For starters, Rays vs. Jays
Update 5:00 p.m. The Rays face a tough pitcher in LHP Ricky Romero, who manager Joe Maddon says has been tougher against the opposite side, kind of a "reverse" guy.
That's partly why you'll see left-handed hitting RF Matt Joyce in the lineup tonight. Joyce is 0-for-9 against Romero, and is hitting .235 vs lefties this season, but Maddon said he wanted to take a chance with him.
"I know he's not had any success against him to this point," Maddon said. "But at any moment, he can make a mistake and the ball can go into the seats. He gave us our best chance of that tonight."
And Maddon acknowledged he's more inclined to take that chance at this point in the season, with the stakes what they are, than maybe in mid-June or July.
** Maddon said C Jose Lobaton got the start because he likes the rookie's right-handed swing. The Rays went into this month wanting to get a good look at Lobaton, evaluating him for next year. And though Lobaton has struggled offensively (hitting .100), Maddon has liked his play defensively, and his at-bats.
"I think defensively eh's been really good," Maddon said. "He receives the ball very well, he throws the ball very well, that's been all good. He hasn't got the hits, but he's worked a lot of good at-bats. He's not been overmatched, so to speak, and so overall, I've been okay (with him). When he got hurt, that kind of threw him back, he had been playing regularly and doing well and now's your time and boom, you get hurt. So that throws you back. For me, I thought he's done pretty well."
UPDATE, 3:55: Rays lineup, with Joyce against a lefty:
DEVELOPING: The Rays, coming off a disappointing 5-1 loss to the Jays Friday night, know they'll likely have to win their remaining five to have a chance to catch the Red Sox for the Wild Card spot.
That begins tonight, with RHP Jeff Niemann ready to take the mound against the Jays after having his outing pushed back a couple days due to upper back soreness. The Rays, who mustered just three hits last night, will face another tough pitching matchup with Jays lefty Ricky Romero. Romero has won three of hish four starts against Tampa Bay this season, with a 2.25 ERA in that span.
The Red Sox, rained out in New York last night, will play the Yankees at 4:05 p.m. today. But LHP David Price, after Friday's loss, knows what the Rays have to do.
"We've got to win all five," Price said. "We don't think Boston is going to go 0-6 in their last six, so we need to put some wins together and step up."
-- JOE SMITH