The Toronto Blue Jays are set for their home opener on Monday night when they welcome the Tampa Bay Rays to Rogers Centre to kick off a four-game series.
After batting .202 and plating only nine runs in their season-opening three- game set against Baltimore, the Rays went to Miami over the weekend and won two out of three as they hit .275 and scored 19 runs for the series.
Tampa Bay's offense strung together 14 hits in Sunday's 8-5 victory to take the rubber match of the Citrus Series. David DeJesus broke a 1-1 tie with a three-run home run in the fifth inning, and he also helped make the lead stick with a brilliant diving catch. Starter Nathan Karns went seven innings and gave up two runs (one earned) on only two hits while striking out six.
Toronto opened its season on the road and took back-to-back series from the Yankees and Orioles.
"It feels like we've been on the road forever," manager John Gibbons said. "It's been a long haul, so it'll be good to get back home."
Gibbons no doubt hopes the offense can bring the momentum to Rogers Centre. After being held to just three hits in Saturday's 7-1 loss, the Blue Jays bounced back with eight runs in the first four innings of Sunday's eventual 10-7 victory. Dalton Pompey, Kevin Pillar and Jose Bautista all went deep for Toronto.
Bautista's homer was his first, as he has been dealing with cramping in his legs. Jose Reyes, who is playing through a left oblique injury, had three hits from the leadoff spot on Sunday.
Tampa Bay will send right-hander Jake Odorizzi to the mound to try and quiet the Blue Jays lineup. Odorizzi allowed only two hits and walked none in 6 2/3 scoreless frames against Baltimore in his season debut. He also struck out seven to secure Kevin Cash's first victory as a major league manager.
The Rays are currently without starters Matt Moore, Alex Cobb and Drew Smyly due to injuries.
"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," Odorizzi said.
For Toronto, R.A. Dickey takes the mound in the team's home opener for the second time in three years. In his first action of the season, the right- hander held the Yankees to one run on four hits over 6 1/3 innings. However, the bullpen later gave up three runs in the eighth as New York went on to win, 4-3.
These teams will face each other seven times in the season's first month.