For starters: Rays at Jays, with a playoff berth in sight

Tonight could be a tough night, as the Rays are starting the extremely inconsistent Jeremy Hellickson.

JAMES BORCHUCK | Times

Tonight could be a tough night, as the Rays are starting the extremely inconsistent Jeremy Hellickson.

27

September

UPDATE, 6:12: Maddon found it curious that the Jays planned to keep the Rogers Centre roof closed on what has been a very nice day, with the obvious coincidence that Dickey pitches better with the roof closed.

UPDATE, 6:03: Maddon went lefty heavy in his lineup tonight hoping to combat Dickey's knuckleball, with only two righthanders, Evan Longoria and Delmon Young. Specifically that included not wanting to explose Myers to the knuckleball. ... Maddon said Escobar could have started and is likely to come in late for defense, but giving him a little more rest for his ankle won't hurt. Escobar is expected to start Saturday. CF Desmond Jennings is still not ready to return to the field due to his hamstring strain, but may continue to be used as a pinch-hitter. ... LHP Enny Romero and OF/PR Freddy Guzman did not travel with the team but are expected in Toronto by gametime as they were delayed by work visa issues. ... There was nothing definitive on RHP Jesse Crain, but it still seems unlikely he will pitch this weekend.

Rays lineup:
Joyce rf
Zobrist ss
Loney 1b
Longoria 3b
DeJesus lf
Young dh
Johnson 2b
Lobaton c
Fuld cf
Hellickson p

Jays lineup:
Reyes ss
Kawasaki dh
Lawrie 3b
Sierra rf
Gose cf
DeRosa 1b
Goins 2b
Thole c
Pillar lf
Dickey p

DEVELOPING: The Rays have taken their seven-game winning streak to Toronto, where they will take the field  against the Blue Jays with a chance to clinch a playoff spot by the end of the night.

The Rays have a magic number of two, meaning that with a win and a Texas loss they are assured of playing in the one-game wild-card playoff. Still to be determined would be a site and an opponent.

The Rays start the day with a one-game lead (and the tiebreaker) over the Indians and two over the Rangers. Regardless of what the others do, if the Rays win at least two of the three games against the Jays, they will be the top wild-card and host on Wednesday.

But tonight could be a tough night, as the Rays are starting the extremely inconsistent Jeremy Hellickson and the Jays, for the sixth time this season, are throwing always baffling knuckleballer R.A. Dickey at them.

There should be updates today on the status of SS Yunel Escobar, who was scratched from the lineup Thursday but came on late to play defense, and CF Desmond Jennings, who left Sunday's game with a mild hamstring strain and pinch-hit on Wednesday.

Lineups when available.

 

[Last modified: Friday, September 27, 2013 6:14pm]

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