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Jeffrey Springs
(Getty Images)

The Tampa Bay Rays will face the host Toronto Blue Jays on Thursday in the opener of a five-game set. First pitch is slated for 7:07 p.m. ET from Rogers Centre. Coverage will be on each team’s regional sports channel as well as MLB.TV.

This will be a pitching duel between a pair of lefties. Jeffrey Springs takes the mound for the Rays. Yusei Kikuchi is the starting pitcher for the Blue Jays. Springs has a 3-2 record with a 2.25 ERA. Kikuchi is 2-4 with an ERA of 5.08. 

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As of June 29, the Rays were second-to-last in the AL East. Meanwhile, the Blue Jays were in second place and 13 games back of the AL East leading New York Yankees

Going into the series, the Rays dropped a pair of games vs. the visiting Milwaukee Brewers in interleague play. The Blue Jays lost two of three on the road at the Brewers from June 24-26. 

Springs has allowed 47 hits, 13 walks, and eight home runs, while tossing 65 strikeouts. The Rays are 5-0 in the last five appearances by Springs. Kikuchi has given up 55 hits, 35 walks, and 13 home runs, in addition to throwing 66 strikeouts. The Blue Jays have gone 1-4 the last five times Kikuchi has pitched. 

In his last outing on June 24, Springs pitched six innings and allowed three earned runs and seven hits as well as tallying nine strikeouts vs. the visiting Pittsburgh Pirates. In Kikuchi’s last game at the Brewers on June 25, he gave up two earned runs and two home runs with five strikeouts in two innings. 

The Rays won two out of three at home vs. the Blue Jays from May 13-15. 

As of June 29, the Rays ranked 23rd in home runs (67), 24th in batting average (.234) and 26th in on-base percentage (.297), slugging percentage (.374) and RBI (281). Third baseman Yandy Diaz leads the Rays in batting average (.266) and on-base percentage (.385). Second baseman Isaac Paredes is tops for the Rays in home runs (10). First baseman Ji-Man Choi has a team-leading 35 RBI. Left fielder Randy Arozarena is first on the Rays with 71 hits. 

Heading into June 29, the Blue Jays ranked third in slugging percentage (.434), fourth in batting average (.257), fifth in on-base percentage (.325) and home runs (98) and sixth in RBI (343). First baseman Vladimir Guerrero Jr. leads the Blue Jays in home runs (18) and RBI (46). Catcher Alejandro Kirk is tops for the Blue Jays in batting average (.325) and on-base percentage (.414). Shortstop Bo Bichette has a team-high 79 hits. 

As of June 29, the Rays were 33-40 against the spread overall and 15-17 against the spread on the road. For over/under, the Rays were 33-36-4 overall and 16-15-1 on the road. 

Prior to June 29, the Blue Jays were 34-40 against the spread overall and 14-23 against the spread at home. In terms of over/under, the Blue Jays were 39-33-2 overall and 19-17-1 at home. 

The Blue Jays should earn a dominant victory in the opener of the division matchup. 

Written by Rolando Rosa, our US sports betting industry expert.