Monday, April 13, 2015

Blue Jays open home slate against division-rival Rays

The Rays and Blue Jays will begin a four-game series Monday night in Toronto at Rogers Centre.
The Blue Jays will be celebrating their home opener for their 39th season. Based on the Rays' history, the Blue Jays have the perfect guest at the Rogers Centre since the Rays are 2-11 as the opponent for a team's home opener.
A series of pregame festivities will help Blue Jays fans enjoy the occasion. Carlos Delgado and George Bell will be on hand to present Jose Bautista with his 2014 Silver Slugger Award. Commissioner Rob Manfred will throw out the ceremonial first pitch alongside nine-year-old Ben Sheppard, and 250 members of the Canadian Armed Forces will carry the Canadian flag during the national anthem.
For the Rays, the game signals the onset of a critical period that will see the Rays begin a 22-game stretch against American League East teams.
"We know we can't get off to a slow start and if we can stay close right here, maintain where we're at, get all of our guys healthy, we should be in good shape," said Jake Odorizzi, who will start for the Rays Monday night, against the Blue Jays' R.A. Dickey.
The Rays and Blue Jays met 16 times during Spring Training and will play each other seven times in the first month of the season, making the teams more than familiar with one another.
Three things to know about this game
• Odorizzi worked hard during the offseason to gain weight to help his cause, and he saw immediate results Wednesday night with a quality start that saw him hold the Orioles scoreless for 6 2/3 innings to lead the Rays to their first win of the season.
"After a long offseason of putting in all that work and all effort to see game one go that well and see the results of all that hard work. What else is possible? It was good just to go out there and get it out of the way and have it go so well. Now I'm ready for the next one."
And that means facing the Blue Jays for Odorizzi.
"They made some big additions," Odorizzi said. "I just have to go out there and execute my game plan like I did against Baltimore. Facing that team to start off with then going [against Toronto] will be a good test. It's two of the best lineups in our division. I've got to be ready, go out there and attack and do my best."
• Asdrubal Cabrera has a .444 career average against Dickey, including two home runs and four RBIs.
• Russell Martin will catch Dickey for the second time on Monday night. As expected, it wasn't exactly a flawless debut for the pair when the Blue Jays played the Yankees on April 8. There were a couple of miscues, but the positive news for Toronto is that there weren't any passed balls as none of the balls got away with runners on base.

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