After a start to the season in which just about everything went wrong, things have seemingly taken a turn in the right direction for the Blue Jays.
They have mounted two impressive comebacks at Tropicana Field, winning the first two games of their series against the Rays and putting together their first three-game winning streak of the season. They'll go for their fourth win in a row on Wednesday night at Tropicana Field, sending lefty Ricky Romero to the mound.
Romero's return to the Majors last Friday was an up-and-down experience. He shut down the Mariners through his first three innings, then lost control of the strike zone in his fourth and final inning. But, overall, Romero felt like his stuff was fine and looked to carry the positives from that start into Wednesday's outing.
"I thought he was great. I really did," Blue Jays manager John Gibbons said. "He ran into some trouble there in the last inning, with some walks and he hit the guy, but overall I think he should feel good about that [outing]. It's something to build off of, because the beginning of the game I thought he was dynamite."
Meanwhile, things couldn't be going much worse for Tampa Bay. The Rays have dropped a Major League-high 13 games in which they held a lead at some point, meaning they've given up a lead in 72 percent of their losses. They saw another lead turn into a loss Tuesday night, dropping a game in which they held a 4-1 advantage after two innings the night after wasting a seven-run lead.
But there is one bright spot for the Rays: They'll have Matt Moore on the mound on Wednesday night.
Tampa Bay is 6-0 this year when Moore starts, as the 23-year-old left-hander has gone 5-0 with a 1.95 ERA, ridding himself of the "slow starter" label. He's benefited from solid run support -- 5.7 runs per game in his starts -- but he's also stranded 96.9 percent of his baserunners, the best rate in the Majors.
So the Rays must hope that Moore can put together another strong outing, put a stop to their mediocre start to the season and begin a streak of better luck.
"That's what we're looking for," Moore said. "We're trying not to make it seem like we have to start winning games right now and there's got to be this huge win streak going, but we do definitely feel that we can play much better than we have been and a couple games have gotten away from us. I don't know if anybody in here really feels pressure, because we've been playing well.
"We've just been giving up some leads and having some weird things happen to us at the ends of games. But we're going to try to stay within ourselves and just continue to play. When things start bouncing our way, we'll start winning those late games and be able to put together a few streaks."
Blue Jays: Happ struck in head by line drive
• Left-hander J.A. Happ was taken off the field on a stretcher Tuesday night at Tropicana Field after he was struck in the head by a line drive during the second inning. Rays center fielder Desmond Jennings scorched a line drive that hit the left side of Happ's head and bounced down the right-field line. Happ fell to the ground holding his left ear, and play was suspended for 11 minutes as medical staff tended to Happ.
Happ was conscious and his eyes were open as he was carted off the field. He gave a small wave to the crowd, which responded with a standing ovation, before he was taken via ambulance to Bayfront Medical Center.
• Sergio Santos, who's been on the disabled list since the middle of April, could be out another two weeks with tightness in his right triceps muscle. He has made some progress in his recovery and is scheduled to start a Minor League rehab assignment early next week, but he's not completely symptom-free. Santos is still feeling some discomfort in his triceps, though he said it was "very manageable" soreness.
Rays: Maddon backs McGee despite continued struggles
• Lefty reliever Jake McGee gave up two more runs on a double and a homer on Tuesday night as his ERA climbed to 11.25. McGee was dominant in 2012, but he's struggled this season -- something manager Joe Maddon attributed to a combination of bad location and even worse luck.
"The biggest thing I would say is location of the pitch more than anything, without getting too specific," Maddon said Wednesday afternoon. "The thing he did last year that was so good was that the location of his fastball was probably better per hitter than it's been this year.
• Roberto Hernandez threw six innings on Tuesday night, making the Rays one of five teams since records are available (1916) to have their starters pitch five-plus innings in each of their first 32 games. Tampa Bay is the only team in baseball whose starters have gone five innings or more in every game this season.
If Moore pitches at least five innings Wednesday, the Rays will join even more exclusive company, second only to the 1981 Pirates (first 45 games) and tied with the '72 Dodgers (33 games).
• Of the 32 games the Rays have played this season, 26 have been against clubs that currently have a winning record. The only exceptions have been the last two games against the Blue Jays and April 25-28 against the White Sox.
• Toronto's 8-7 win Monday night marked its largest comeback victory since June 5, 2007, against Tampa Bay. It was the second largest comeback win on the road in club history.