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Game Thread 04/07/07; Toronto at RAYS

Toronto at RAYS
7:10; RAYS TV

Pitching Matchup:

TOR RH T. Okha 97.0 4 5 4.82 4.64 3.25 1.43 9.09 1.11 1.37 0.98 3.67
RAYS LH C. Fossum 130.0 6 6 5.33 6.09 4.36 1.40 9.42 1.25 1.53 1.40 3.68

Stats from 2006 Season

RH Tomo Ohka, TOR:

Overview-Ohka makes his pitching debut for the Blue Jays as he gets the start this evening against a Rays team whom he loves to face. Ohka, with Milwaukee last year, struggled with shoulder issues like Fossum, however he appears to be fully recovered and ready to take the field. Signed to a $1.5 million, one year deal in the offseason, he had a 2.84 ERA in 19 innings of work in the spring for the Jays.

vs RAYS-Ohka did not face Tampa Bay last year, although he has had great success against the team in the few times that he has faced the organization, pitching to a 1.65 ERA in five starts against the organization, however all but one of those starts came prior to 2002 when he was a member of the Boston Red Sox. The only Ray with any significant career experience against Ohka is Ty Wigginton, who if 4 for 10 with two home runs and two walks off of the righty in his career.

LH Casey Fossum, RAYS:

Overview-Fossum takes to the hill in a regular season contest for the first time since late August of 2006, after which he had season-ending surgery on his left shoulder. He had struggled after the All-Star Break, posting a 5.38 ERA before being shut down as part of an overall disappointing season. He was on the whole better at Tropicana Field, where he posted a 4.42 ERA on the season. Fossum made four starts in spring training and surrendered only one run in 12.1 innings of work, appearing to look healthy for the season.

vs Toronto-Fossum has quite a bit of experience facing the Toronto ballclub, being in the AL East the past two seasons with the Rays and several prior in a previous stint with Boston. He has a 5.46 ERA in 61 career innings against the Blue Jays, though he was far worse last year in posting a 7.71 ERA against Toronto in three starts. Aaron Hill has been especially effective against Fossum in his career, as he is a career 7 for 11 against the southpaw with a home run and three walks. Lyle Overbay, Alex Rios, Frank Thomas, and Gregg Zaun have also had success off of Fossum historically, while conversely, Vernon Wells, Troy Glaus and Reed Johnson have struggled against him.

Starting Lineups:

From Lancaster

The Devil Rays have been at the top of the AL East alone for six days in their nine-plus season history. Today is one of those six days.

Manager Joe Maddon shook up the lineup a bit today, inserting Rocco Baldelli in centerfield for the first time this season and giving Carlos Pena and Brendan Harris their first starts. Baldelli will return to DH tomorrow, with Elijah Dukes (not in the lineup today) returning to center to face Roy Halladay in the series finale. SS Ben Zobrist also will return to the lineup Sunday, Maddon said.

Here are the lineups:
Blue Jays
Reed Johnson, LF
Lyle Overbay, 1B
Vernon Wells, CF
Frank Thomas, DH
Troy Glaus, 3B
Alex Rios, RF
Aaron Hill, 2B
Jason Phillips, C

Tomo Ohka, P

Devil Rays
Carl Crawford, LF
Carlos Pena, 1B
Rocco Baldelli, CF
Ty Wigginton, DH
Delmon Young, RF
Akinori Iwamura, 3B
Dioner Navarro, C
Brendan Harris, SS
B.J. Upton, 2B

Casey Fossum, P

-I will not be able to deliver this information today, as I am heading out to the ballpark to get me a Tropicana Field figurine.

GO RAYS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!