Saturday, April 29: Tampa Bay Rays at Toronto Blue Jays game preview

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TORONTO -- The Tampa Bay Rays would like to keep things going the way they are when the play the Toronto Blue Jays on Saturday afternoon at Rogers Centre.

While the Rays (12-12) were getting even Friday night by using a three-homer eighth inning to propel themselves into a 7-4 victory, the Blue Jays (6-17) kept digging themselves into a deeper hole.

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All Toronto can hope for is that the Saturday's against Tampa Bay is the beginning of a massive turnaround. The Rays will start Matt Andriese (1-0, 3.86) and the Blue Jays are going with left-hander Francisco Liriano (1-2, 4.58 ERA).

The Blue Jays keep putting themselves in a position to win before failing to close the deal. They led 3-1 before Tampa Bay scored four runs in the eighth and added two more runs in the ninth.

It was eighth time in the Rays' 12 victories this season -- and the fifth in their past six -- that they have come back to earn the win.

It could be a good sign.

"You hope so," Rays third baseman Evan Longoria said. "Those are the kind that tend to catapult you forward. We needed that one. It's just a really good job staying in the game nine innings. … It shows some really good resilience by the ball club being able to put that one (an 11th-inning loss in Baltimore on Wednesday) behind us."

"I was really impressed with the way the guys just continued to battle," Tampa Bay manager Kevin Cash said. "We were patient enough and got something going."

Toronto's bullpen also let a 4-0 lead get away Thursday in the first game of a doubleheader against the St. Louis Cardinals and lost 8-4 in 11 innings.

Blue Jays manager John Gibbons admits that they are painful losses.

"That's the key, when you're in a spot to win it, you've got to win those games," Gibbons said. "Losing is always tough, especially the close ones when you're in the driver's seat."

Jason Grilli gave up the game-tying home run in the eighth and Dominic Leone served up a two-run blast into the restaurant to center by Logan Morrison that gave Tampa Bay the lead. It has been a familiar story for the Toronto bullpen.

"We're in a little bit of a rut with some guys down there, that's obvious," Gibbons said. "We were on a nice little roll not too long ago, these are our guys. We'll keep on running them out there, they're all capable, they're all good."

Starter Marcus Stroman, who struck out 10 in 7 1/3 innings and left with a 3-2 lead, said, "It's just a matter of things turning around for us. It's just frustrating. We kill ourselves to be at our best when we're out there so when things don't go our way, it's tough. We're doing everything in our power to turn this around."

Liriano will try to get the job done Saturday in his second outing against the Rays this season.

In his first start of the season on April 7, Liriano lasted only one-third of an inning against the Rays at Tropicana Field. He allowed three hits, four walks and five runs but did not factor in the decision in Tampa Bay's 10-8 victory. In his most recent start, Liriano allowed five hits, four walks and two runs in 5 1/3 innings in a 2-1 loss to the Los Angeles Angels. In his career against the Rays, he is 2-3 with a 5.85 ERA in 11 games (10 starts).

Andriese is 0-1 with a 4.88 ERA in eight career outings (four starts) against Toronto. The right-hander is 0-0 with a 4.05 ERA in two career starts at the Rogers Centre, going 3 2/3 innings and three innings in those starts. He has allowed 20 homers over 83 2/3 innings pitched since the 2016 All-Star break.