May 25, 2014; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Toronto Blue Jays shortstop Jose Reyes (7) and right fielder Jose Bautista (19) and left fielder Melky Cabrera (53) celebrate the win in a game against the Oakland Athletics at Rogers Centre. The Toronto Blue Jays won 3-1.Mandatory Credit: Nick Turchiaro-USA TODAY Sports

Series Preview: Jose Reyes and Blue Jays put winning streak on the line against Rays.

Damn this is getting exciting! The Toronto Blue Jays pounded the Red Sox into submission with the long ball and the same squad ran roughshod over the AL leading Oakland Athletics and took them down three straight. Finally being able to see Jose Reyes play the way Jose Reyes is meant to play has been fantastic. When he isn’t worried about the next impending injury he truly is a difference maker on the bases. It was also intriguing to see Anthony Gose still holding his own while he subs in for Colby Rasmus. Gawd I love the speed of the game when put to good use. Gose and Reyes on base together must be becoming the nightmare scenario for opposing managers. Thank goodness we get to see the action at the Rogers Centre. Reyes could very well be carrying this team right now. A hard worker leading by example.

hate to dig on a Canadian boy but even he must be a bit surprised by how well he is doing

On the other side the Rays are, finally, kind of going down the crapper rather slowly but surely. Never count out a team with Joe Maddon at the helm and David Price atop the rotation but they may have finally run into a wall with their need to drain every last little ounce of talent out of ever dollar spent. They were too good for too long in Tampa and nobody went to the games. Imagine now, in the mausoleum that is Tropicana Field, what the fan turn out is going to be. When Erik Bedard is one of your best pitchers then you have a wee bit of a problem (hate to dig on a Canadian boy but even he must be a bit surprised by how well he is doing). The Rays will either halt this great stretch with a loud thump due to their most recent heroics (3 walk offs) or the Blue Jays, with continued confidence, will knock them further down the AL East depth chart. It is time the Blue Jays were able to take down the Rays with any regularity. If they pull that off then we truly may have something here.

Probable Starting Pitchers

Game 1: Erik Bedard (2-2, 2.63 ERA) vs Drew Hutchison (3-3, 3.45 ERA)

Speaking of Erik Bedard, if he pitches against Erik Kratz would that be the first battle of the Erik’s with a k? Anyone bored enough to let me know? Anyway he has had quite a resurgence since being plopped into the starting rotation due to the injury bug that has bitten the Rays starters this season. In his last five starts he has given up 1 or no runs in all of them and taking his ERA down from 7.45 to a very respectable 2.63. Why the sudden success? A BAA against of .204 that’s why. 42 points below his career average. So he bears watching and may be due for a but of a letdown. Will he let this happen in his home country? Methinks the distractions may aid the Jays in this.

That and Drew Hutchison is pitching like a number one in his last two starts. 1 run in 14.2 innings with 10 strikeouts which ranks him among the top 15 in the AL. He will eventually turn into a fluid and solid number 3, maaaaybe a 2, but either way he is among the best pitchers in the league over the last few weeks. Look for him to continue his success against a less than stellar Rays lineup and garner a win for the home boys.

Game 2: Alex Cobb (1-1, 1.40 ERA) vs Mark Buehrle (8-1, 2.16 ERA)

So Alex Cobb was rolling along with two consecutive 7 inning games in which he gave up nary a run. Then the injury bug knocks him out for 6 weeks. What did he do first game back? 6 2/3 innings of shutout ball against the then AL Leading Oakland Athletics. That’s 20 2/3 shutout innings and counting. Seems to me the kid is for real which would make this a difficult game for the Blue Jays batters. You would think there was a bit of a slump coming offensively and if it was due to hit this may be the game in which it happens. I hope not but it will be tough.

It will be a game though because Mark Buehrle is the mound opponent. Arguable the best pitcher in the AL at the moment (with apologies to Sonny Gray). Buehrle has never been this good to start a season before. He has always been a guy who gives up the hits but never the big ones. With the way it’s going (9 out of 10 games with 2 ER or less given up) he has a real good shot to start the All-Star Game this season. At the very least he has a renewed confidence in his offense that allows him to relax and toss those softies to any spot around the plate he wants. Let’s hop the phrase “winning is contagious” rings true here…though I don’t think it will. I think it’s the end of the winning streak.

Game 3: Chris Archer (3-2, 4.11 ERA) vs Liam Hendriks (1-0, 1.59 ERA)

After a few not so solid outings Chris Archer has not given up a run in 11 2/3 innings over his last two starts. He is only 22 and has the makings of a solid Hutchison type of role in the Rays starting rotation but is still growing into his role. He does have a 3.14 ERA on turf which is almost 2 runs better than when he is pitching on a grass field. Here’s hoping the speed and power of the Blue Jays sends a few shivers down his spine and causes the beginning of a new win streak.

That will be helped muchly by this year’s surprise in the rotation, Liam Hendriks. His MLB track record is a bit on the uh oh side but he has continued to soldier on with the same type of numbers he was putting up as he dominated AAA batters this year. His penchant for giving up walks makes me nervous a bit but if he can give us 6 innings under 2 runs I can see an 8th save in Casey Janssen‘s future.

Probable Starting Lineups

Tampa Bay Rays

1. DH: David DeJesus
2. 3B: Evan Longoria
3. LF: Matt Joyce
4. RF: Wil Myers
5. 1B: James Loney
6. CF: Desmond Jennings
7. 2B: Cole Figueroa
8. C: Ryan Hanigan
9. SS: Hak-Ju Lee

Toronto Blue Jays

1. SS: Jose Reyes
2. LF: Melky Cabrera
3. RF: Jose Bautista
4. 1B: Edwin Encarnacion
5. 3B: Brett Lawrie
6. DH: Dioner Navarro
7. 2B: Steven Tolleson
8. C: Erik Kratz
9. CF: Anthony Gose

Worth the Price of Admission: It cannot be understated just how good Jose Reyes can be. Sunday he stole 3 bases in a game for the first time since he was with the New York Mets in 2008. If that is the Reyes we finally have things are going to get whacky!

Worth the Price of 1/1000 of a Rogers Centre Pint: Esmil Rogers. ALl the way off the 40 man. Our starting saviour last year has just been horrid. The ultimate addition by subtraction.

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