American League Preview from The Sports Network|
Monday, May 14th
(All times Eastern)
Tampa Bay Rays (21-14) at Toronto Blue Jays (19-16), 7:07 p.m.
Probable Starting Pitchers: Tampa Bay - Jeff Niemann (2-3, 3.48)
Toronto - Brandon Morrow (4-1, 2.27)
(Sports Network) - Brandon Morrow's season didn't get off to a great start and
a loss to the Rays a month ago had to leave the former first-round pick
However, the Blue Jays right-hander hasn't lost since.
Morrow looks to win five straight starts for the first time in his career as
Toronto hosts the Tampa Bay Rays this evening in the opener of a two-game
Morrow was touched for six runs over six innings in a loss to the Rays on
April 18, giving up homers to Matt Joyce, Sean Rodriguez and Ben Zobrist while
falling to 0-1 with a 4.50 earned run average through three starts. He also
dropped to 4-4 with a pair of saves and a 2.92 ERA in 13 lifetime meetings
with Tampa Bay, including nine starts.
"He wasn't able to get away with too many mistakes," Blue Jays manager John
Farrell said about Morrow following the outing versus the Rays. "First-pitch
fastballs found their way back to the middle and were squared up for extra-
The 27-year-old has won all four of his starts since, matching his career-
best streak of consecutive winning starts set from July 17-Aug. 8, 2010. He
did win five straight decisions over a seven-start span from June 18-July 20
of last year.
Morrow has a 0.65 ERA over his win streak, allowing two runs over 27 2/3
innings. He has struck out 30 in that span, including a season-high 10 in a
5-2 win at Oakland on Wednesday. He allowed a run on four hits and four walks
in six innings, six days after a three-hit shutout at the Angels.
In seven starts, Morrow is 4-1 with a 2.27 ERA on the season.
Toronto returns home after splitting a 10-game road trip as it failed to
secure a winning swing thanks to Sunday's 4-3 loss at Minnesota.
The Blue Jays scored three runs in the eighth to make it interesting, but it
wasn't enough to erase the damage from starter Ricky Romero, who took his
first loss of the season after giving up four runs over 5 1/3 frames.
"We had a couple of opportunities when we hit the ball hard," said Toronto
manager John Farrell, adding, "I like the way we swung the bats."
Tampa Bay also swung the bats well on Sunday, getting three RBI from Zobrist
in a 9-8 win. Zobrist followed an Elliot Johnson solo homer with one of his
own in the eighth in what ended up being the deciding runs.
"[The back-to-back homers] helped give us a little bit of breathing room going
into the ninth and it turned out we really needed it," Zobrist said.
Carlos Pena slapped a two-run double, while Will Rhymes and Joyce also knocked
in runs for Tampa Bay, which snapped a three-game slide and had also lost six
Jeff Niemann will try to pitch the Rays to consecutive wins tonight following
one of his better outings of the season.
The right-hander hurled a season-high seven innings on Wednesday at the
Yankees, giving up a run and walking one while striking out five. However, he
did not factor into a 4-1 win even though he snapped a career-worst span of
seven straight starts with less than six innings pitched.
Niemann is 2-3 with a 3.48 ERA in six starts this season and that includes a
loss in Toronto on April 17. The 29-year-old was charged with five runs -- two
earned -- on three hits over five innings. He yielded homers to Jose Bautista
(solo) and Adam Lind (two-run), the only homers Niemann has allowed this
Niemann has won just one of his past six starts versus the Blue Jays and is
4-4 against them lifetime with a 5.11 ERA in 12 outings. Lind is hitting .464
off him with three homers and nine RBI.
The Rays have won nine of their past 12 versus the Blue Jays, including two of
three at Toronto from April 17-19.
05/14 10:36:37 ET