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American League Preview from The Sports Network



Saturday, September 1st (All times Eastern)

Tampa Bay Rays (71-61) at Toronto Blue Jays (60-71), 1:07 p.m.

Probable Starting Pitchers: Tampa Bay - Jeff Niemann (2-3, 3.38) Toronto - Henderson Alvarez (7-11, 4.97)

(Sports Network) - The Tampa Bay Rays hope Jeff Niemann can get them back into the win column on Saturday when they continue a four-game set with the Toronto Blue Jays at Rogers Centre.

Tampa's struggles continued on Friday, as Brandon Morrow hurled 6 2/3 effective innings to help Toronto gets past the Rays, 2-1.

Morrow (8-5) gave up one run on eight hits and a walk with five strikeouts to put an end to a personal two-game losing streak. Steve Delabar worked 1 1/3 perfect innings in relief and Casey Janssen was bailed out of trouble in the ninth inning to earn his 19th save of the season.

"I was throwing strikes with my fastball, but wasn't really keeping it down," Morrow said. "I was able to make some big pitches with guys on base and use the curveball well."

Edwin Encarnacion hit a solo home run, while Moises Sierra smoked a solo homer and helped out defensively by throwing out Elliot Johnson at the plate for the final out of the game.

Desmond Jennings accounted for the lone run with a homer and Jeremy Hellickson (8-10) took the loss after allowing two runs on four hits over six-plus innings for the Rays, who have lost six of their last seven.

Tampa has lost 11 of its last 12 one-run games and is 6-20 in such contests this season.

"Maybe the game owes us a good September of one-run victories," said Tampa manager Joe Maddon

Getting the call for the Blue Jays on Saturday will be righty Henderson Alvarez, who is 7-11 with a 4.97 ERA. Alvarez did not get a decision on Monday against the New York Yankees, but did not pitch well, as he allowed four runs in 3 1/3 innings of an 8-7 win.

Alvarez lost to the Rays the last time he faced them and is 0-4 in four starts against them with a 6.08 ERA.

Tampa, meanwhile, will counter with Niemann, who hasn't pitched in the majors since May 14.

Niemann was last on the hill in Toronto, but had to leave that contest when Adam Lind's liner back up the middle hit him and fractured his right leg.

"I'm just excited to be with the team again and I'm ready to go," Niemann said.

The Blue Jays are 4-9 against Tampa Bay this season.

09/01 10:32:53 ET