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vs. Blue Jays
What's new: Since an 11-game winning streak that got them to a season-high two games over .500, the underachieving Jays were 17-29 going into Thursday's play. The main problem is a pitching staff that posted a 4.97 ERA, second highest in the majors, over that span and an MLB-most 59 homers. Overall their starters have an MLB-worst 5.09 ERA. Injuries have been an issue, with RHP Josh Johnson out again. The offense remains dangerous, however, with the dynamic duo of Jose Bautista and Edwin Encarnacion in the middle, and Jose Reyes back. Also INF Brett Lawrie is hot. OFs Colby Rasmus and Melky Cabrera are on the DL.
Key stat: The Jays are 16-12 in games decided in the last at-bat.
Connections: Rays C Jose Molina, INFs Yunel Escobar and Kelly Johnson are former Jays. Toronto RHP Todd Redmond, who starts Sunday, is a St. Petersburg native, Bautista briefly a Ray.
Series history: Rays lead 8-5 this season, 4-3 at Trop. Rays lead 144-126 overall; 81-53 at Trop.
Marc Topkin, Times staff writer