Blue Jays: Upcoming series in Seattle sets up Robbie Ray reunion
The Toronto Blue Jays finished up a week that was full of adversity both on and off the field.
First off, the Boston Red Sox and Tampa Bay Rays came to town, with all three squads trailing the Yankees in the AL East but all fighting for the top position in the AL Wild Card race as we enter July. This included a doubleheader on Saturday against the Rays to make up for cancelled games earlier in the year, making it a five-game series at the Rogers Centre.
While the Jays walked away with a 4-4 record on the week, they were thoroughly thumped on Saturday, giving up 17 runs on the day between both games. Kevin Gausman also took a scary comebacker off his ankle and might have to miss his next start (to be determined but at least not seriously injured) while the club also played with heavy hearts on Sunday after learning that Julia Budzinski, eldest daughter of first base coach Mark Budzinski, passed away on Saturday. The club held a moment of silence before the series finale yesterday while condolences poured in from across the league and the Jays fanbase for the Budzinski family.
The Jays are now heading on a western road trip that includes three games against Oakland before finishing the week with a four-game series in Seattle. The Mariners currently sit 13.5 games back of the Astros in AL Central while the A’s are struggling, owning a 26-55 record on the year. The Blue Jays will hopefully take the Oakland series (a sweep would be great) before heading North to Seattle, where a matchup between the Jays and former player and 2021 Cy Young winner Robbie Ray is possible later this week.
The Blue Jays face the Seattle Mariners later this week on the West Coast, setting up a contest against former pitcher Robbie Ray for the first time since he left last offseason.
Ray pitched yesterday against the Athletics, going 6.2 innings while allowing only one earned run with two walks and 12 strikeouts, the highest mark of the year for the Tennessee product. The Mariners have two games against the Padres and an off-day on Wednesday before Toronto rolls into town, shaping up for Ray to appear either on Friday or Saturday, depending on if Seattle chooses to mix around their rotation with the off-day.
After a slow start to the season, the former Blue Jays starter has started to gain the same form that won him the Cy Young award last season. Through his last seven starts, Ray has posted a 2.06 ERA through 43.2 innings, sporting a 3-1 record with 49 strikeouts. Since June 1st, Ray has gone a minimum of five innings each outing and has not allowed more than four earned runs, allowing one earned run or less over his last five outings.
This would be the first matchup between the two sides after Ray signed a long-term deal with the Mariners this past offseason. The two teams faced off in Toronto back in mid-May but the left-hander was not scheduled to pitch, as he appeared in the last game of the Mets series before they travelled North of the border. While this isn’t that big of a deal, what made this more interesting was that Ray did not travel with the club to his old stomping grounds and that the club used a scheduled off day earlier in the week to have him pitch the Sunday game. He was not placed on the restricted list for players who are unvaccinated and can’t cross the border due to Canadian and United States entry requirements, nor was there ever an official announcement as to why he wasn’t in Toronto, but it is odd that he wasn’t at the Rogers Centre to be celebrated after having such a dominant season last year.
The first contest between Ray and the Jays should bring up some old memories of when the southpaw was donning a Blue Jays jersey last season. Unfortunately for Toronto, Ray appears to be finding a groove, meaning the Jays’ bats will need to be on point if they want to take home the win when he takes the mound later this week.