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Preview: Rays (50-54) at Blue Jays (56-49)
BT Movements  ·  Line Movements
Game: 1
Venue: Rogers Centre
Date: September 27, 2013 7:07 PM EDT
  

The AL wild card-leading Tampa Bay Rays continue to inch closer to locking up a playoff spot.

The Toronto Blue Jays' R.A. Dickey, meanwhile, is set to conclude what's been a disappointing year.

Seeking a season high-tying eighth consecutive win, the visiting Rays have a chance to clinch Friday night in the first of three against the Blue Jays.

Evan Longoria stayed hot with two hits and three RBIs and Delmon Young hit a home run as Tampa Bay (90-69) swept the New York Yankees with Thursday's 4-0 road win. The Rays, who have outscored opponents 37-13 during their winning streak, lowered their magic number for securing a wild-card berth to two. They can clinch with a win and a Texas loss to the Los Angeles Angels.

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Tampa Bay has now posted four consecutive 90-win seasons for the first time in franchise history.

"That's outstanding, a great tribute to the organization from top to bottom," said manager Joe Maddon, whose team won eight straight July 4-11. "There's a really nice quiet confidence among them. ... They're really sniffing it, and that matters. And so you're seeing a higher level of mental play."

The Rays now turn their attention to Dickey (13-13, 4.27 ERA), who hasn't lived up to expectations in his first season with the Blue Jays.

The reigning NL Cy Young Award winner, who had gone 4-0 with a 2.73 ERA in his previous five outings, struck out a season-high 11 and went the distance in Sunday's 5-2 loss at Boston.

Dickey surrendered his 32nd and 33rd homers, the second-most in the majors.

"He gives up fly balls, that's part of being a knuckleballer, but he threw a tremendous game if you take away the two home runs," manager John Gibbons told MLB's official website. "The problem is you can't take away the two home runs."

Dickey's complete game was his third of the year.

"I had a good knuckleball, I've had a good knuckleball for quite some time and I expected better from what I felt and what I saw the ball doing."

Dickey is 3-1 with a 2.40 ERA in six matchups against the Rays since last year. He has baffled several of their hitters, including Ben Zobrist (2 for 19), Desmond Jennings (1 for 16), Luke Scott (1 for 13), Jose Molina (0 for 10) and rookie Wil Myers (0 for 6).

Tampa Bay counters with Jeremy Hellickson (12-9, 5.16), who threw 2 1-3 scoreless innings of relief and earned the win last Friday in a 5-4, 18-inning victory over Baltimore.

The right-hander, though, was hit hard in his last start, surrendering five runs before exiting with two outs in the third inning of a 7-1 loss to Texas on Sept. 17. His ERA ranks third-highest in all of baseball among qualified pitchers.

"It's been a back-and-forth battle with him," Maddon said. "Even in games he's won, there have been a lot of runs scored. It's just been awkward with him. He just hasn't been as steady as he's been in the past. Why? I don't really know. ... I don't have any solid answers."

Hellickson is 3-0 with a 2.45 ERA during a six-start stretch versus Toronto. Brett Lawrie is 1 for 19 in their matchups.

Lawrie, 1 for his last 19, is hitting .185 in 13 games against the Rays this year.

Longoria is batting .374 with seven homers and 28 RBIs in 29 games in the series since last season. He is 7 for 13 with two homers and eight RBIs in his last three games overall.

Tampa Bay has won 24 of 33 against Toronto.

AP NEWS
The Associated Press News Service

Copyright 2014
The Associated Press
All Rights Reserved

 SERIES AT A GLANCE
GAME 1
Rays at Blue Jays
Fri, Sep 27 Final 3 to 6
 Boxscores    Recaps
GAME 2
Rays at Blue Jays
Sat, Sep 28 Final 2 to 7
 Boxscores    Recaps
GAME 3
Rays at Blue Jays
Sun, Sep 29 Final 7 to 6
 Boxscores    Recaps

 CURRENT LAS VEGAS LINE
 Team  ML   RUN   O/U 
 TAM  -130   +130   7.5 
 TOR  +120   -150   
LAS VEGAS LINE MOVEMENTS

 CURRENT SPORTSBOOK LINE
 Team  ML   RUN   O/U 
 TAM  -135   +125   8 
 TOR  +125   -145   
OFFSHORE LINE MOVEMENTS

 BETTING TRENDS
 Team  ML   RUN   O/U 
 TAM  75%   83%   54% 
 TOR  25%   17%   46% 
BT MOVEMENTS

 MLB HEAD TO HEAD
 Aug 18, 2013  Score  ATS Results 
 TOR 1 Under: 3 
 TAM 2 Cover: +100 
 Tools:   Boxscores    Recaps
 Aug 17, 2013  Score  ATS Results 
 TOR 6 Cover: +140 
 TAM 2 Under: 8 
 Tools:   Boxscores    Recaps
 Aug 16, 2013  Score  ATS Results 
 TOR 4 Over: 9 
 TAM 5 Cover: +100 
 Tools:   Boxscores    Recaps
 Jul 21, 2013  Score  ATS Results 
 TAM 4 Cover: +110 
 TOR 3 Under: 7 
 Tools:   Boxscores    Recaps
 Jul 20, 2013  Score  ATS Results 
 TAM 4 Cover: +100 
 TOR 3 Under: 7 
 Tools:   Boxscores    Recaps
 Jul 19, 2013  Score  ATS Results 
 TAM 8 Cover: +100 
 TOR 5 Over: 13 
 Tools:   Boxscores    Recaps
 Jun 26, 2013  Score  ATS Results 
 TOR 3 Cover: +107 
 TAM 0 Under: 3 
 Tools:   Boxscores    Recaps
 Jun 25, 2013  Score  ATS Results 
 TOR 1 Under: 6 
 TAM 5 Cover: +100 
 Tools:   Boxscores    Recaps
 Jun 24, 2013  Score  ATS Results 
 TOR 1 Under: 5 
 TAM 4 Cover: +100 
 Tools:   Boxscores    Recaps
 May 22, 2013  Score  ATS Results 
 TAM 3 Under: 7 
 TOR 4 Cover: +100 
 Tools:   Boxscores    Recaps

 MLB PREVIEWS
 Friday, Sep 27
 
    Red Sox at Orioles
7:05 PM EDT
    Rays at Blue Jays
7:05 PM EDT
    Tigers at Marlins
7:10 PM EDT
    Brewers at Mets
7:10 PM EDT
    Pirates at Reds
7:10 PM EDT
    Phillies at Braves
7:35 PM EDT
    Angels at Rangers
8:05 PM EDT
    Royals at White Sox
8:10 PM EDT
    Indians at Twins
8:10 PM EDT
    Yankees at Astros
8:10 PM EDT
    Cubs at Cardinals
8:15 PM EDT
    Nationals at Diamondbacks
9:40 PM EDT
    Athletics at Mariners
10:10 PM EDT
    Rockies at Dodgers
10:10 PM EDT
    Padres at Giants
10:15 PM EDT
 
 
 
  
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