Even with two wild cards being offered this season for each conference, Toronto seems unable to grab either of them and unless things change dramatically they will miss the playoffs once again. Tampa Bay is in a better position but losing the series with their divisional rivals would hurt their chances and allow the Orioles to extend their lead.
Match: Tampa Bay Rays vs Toronto Blue Jays
Bet: Toronto Blue Jays
Odds: bet365 2.20
The hosts benefited from Evan Longoria’s return in the lineup and took the opening game by four runs to one, but they won’t have James Shields protecting their back today. Instead, they have to trust a starting pitcher that doesn’t enjoy playing at Tropicana Field, an arena where he lost every single start this season. Alex Cobb ended his losing streak with a victory over Oakland, but the last few weeks he struggled with his command over fastballs and was retired after no more than three innings.
Back to winning ways
The Blue Jays certainly realized their mistake of not using Carlos Villanueva as a starting pitcher from day one, after he won all six decisions. Unfortunately for Carlos he lost his last outing despite a decent performance in Seattle against the Mariners. Due to insufficient support, Villanueva was tagged with his first defeat in 2012 and his ERA climbed above the 3.00 value. He would’ve liked to face Tampa Bay without Longoria on the field, but even in these conditions the Dominican has a good chance to last at least seven innings.
For Toronto it is mandatory to put a lot of pressure on the starting pitcher, because Cobb is one streaky player who easily loses his temper. The visitors tend to mirror their opponents and when they face teams that placed the emphasis on pitching, they score less runs and win games by a narrow margin. On the other hand, series such as the one played against Boston turned into a scoring festival and Tampa Bay is a team that resembles the Red Sox.
Toronto is the slight underdog tonight due to the fact that Tampa plays in front of its fans and won the first game of the series. Fortunately Major League Baseball is one of the most balanced championships and upsets are produced on a daily basis. The first few innings will decide the fate of the game and despite recording a rare victory in August, Alex Cobb is not the kind of pitcher to trust with your money.