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Tampa Bay Rays open homestand against Toronto Blue Jays ace Roy Halladay

The Rays have tagged Blue Jays ace Roy Halladay with a loss twice this season and five times in the last two years.

JAMES BORCHUCK | Times

The Rays have tagged Blue Jays ace Roy Halladay with a loss twice this season and five times in the last two years.

ST. PETERSBURG — The Rays thought they had seen the last of ace Roy Halladay when they faced him July 24 in what was billed as his last Toronto home start before an expected trade-deadline deal.

But Halladay stayed a Blue Jay, and with the Rays reeling after a 1-5 road trip and desperate to open their key nine-game homestand with a win, he will be on the mound tonight at Tropicana Field.

"Isn't that fun?" Rays manager Joe Maddon said.

But facing Halladay might not be a bad thing for the Rays. They've beaten him twice and won the other game he started against them this season, and the five losses they've pinned on him over the past two seasons are his most against any team.

The Rays will start their ace, James Shields, who has been having an interesting season of his own.

Shields has a 3.79 ERA that ranks 17th in the American League, but he has a losing record (7-8) primarily because of a lack of run support. He went eight starts without a win before a Saturday victory at Seattle, when the Rays scored 10 runs for him.

"It's just been a weird season for me," Shields said. "I think every team has that guy. … You can't really think about what's happened in the past. You've got to just kind of move on."

DEPTH RETAINED: INF Joe Dillon cleared waivers and accepted an outright assignment to Triple-A Durham. Dillon was designated for assignment Saturday when the Rays added RHP Russ Springer and expanded the bullpen to eight.

DRAFTees update: The Rays are closing in on a deal with third-round draft pick OF Todd Glaesmann, who was weighing an offer from Texas A&M, and several other top picks in advance of Monday's midnight signing deadline.

Also close to signing are No. 4 C Luke Bailey of Troup County (Ga.) High; No. 5 1B Jeff Malm of Gorman (Nev.) High; and No. 9 LHP Kevin James of Whitefish Bay (Wis.) High.

No. 1 pick INF LeVon Washington (considering Florida) and No. 2. SS Kenny Diekroeger (Stanford) are unsigned.

POWER BALL: After hitting just three homers in a 31-game stretch and being dropped from the cleanup spot, 1B Carlos Peña appears to have gotten his groove back. He has five homers in his past six games and reclaimed the AL lead with 31, though he's hitting .216 and leads the AL with 141 strikeouts.

"I'm just going to keep working," he said. "I have so much room for improvement. I'm just not going to stop. … I can get so much better, and the only way to achieve that is to hit until your hands bleed."

MISCELLANY: The Gregg Zaun trade with Baltimore is expected to be completed today, with the Rays likely giving up a midlevel prospect. … The Rays team won the Venezuelan Summer League championship, beating the Pirates in the best-of-three series. … The Home Shopping Network is selling limited edition autographed Rays All-Star jerseys starting at $150. Go to www.hsn.com/allstars.

Tampa Bay Rays open homestand against Toronto Blue Jays ace Roy Halladay 08/13/09 [Last modified: Friday, August 14, 2009 8:15am]
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