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Game Thread 09/19/07; RAYS (65-94) at Toronto (81-78)

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RAYS at Toronto
7:07; NO TV
RAYS RADIO/WHNZ 1250 AM

PITCHING MATCHUP:

IP ERA K/9 BB/9 K/BB H/9 OPS HR/9 WHIP BABIP G/F P/IP
RAYS RH Andy Sonnanstine 125.2 5.80 6.66 1.79 3.72 10.38 .803 1.22 1.35 .329 0.90 16.04
TOR RH Dustin McGowan 163.2 4.07 7.59 3.24 2.34 7.70 .636 0.66 1.22 .283 1.71 15.94

RH Andy Sonnanstine, RAYS:

Overview: Andy Sonnanstine makes the final start of his rookie campaign in the first game of the Rays' final series of the season. As always, Sonnanstine will rely on his pinpoint control this evening as he goes for the win, but he will really need to avoid getting smacked around by the Toronto lineup if he wants to have success. Sonnanstine's pure stuff simply isn't strong enough that he can go right at opposing hitters; he must rely on arm angle changes and the aforementioned control to throw strikes. The problem with Sonnanstine this year has been that he gives up too many home runs and fly balls in general. He lives and dies on avoiding baserunners, and when they tend to get on against him they are usually driven in. He simply cannot afford to allow too many opposing hitters to reach base because of his penchant for giving up an extra base hit or the long ball that will bring them home. If he can limit his walks, limit balls in play, and keep the ball down, he stands a good chance of being successful this evening. But he also needs to avoid running into a wall in the middle innings. Whether because opposing hitters are able to pick up on his confusing arm angles after one at bat or whatever the case may be, Sonnanstine starts to be more susceptible to allowing hits starts at around the fourth inning. He will need to be consistent and give the Rays at least a quality start effort tonight. The bullpen has been ravaged by the last series against New York, and couple that with an international road trip after no off day and the Rays' success may in fact hinge upon Sonnanstine's ability to relieve the bullpen.

Recent Starts: Sonnanstine has struggled in two of the last three games, with the exception being a lone game sandwiched in-between those two poor efforts. The Rays' righty gave up five runs in 5.1 innings of work last time out against Toronto on Saturday while two starts earlier he gave up five runs in 3.1 innings of work against the Red Sox. In-between those two starts was a gem against Seattle on September 16th in which Sonny gave up just one run over seven innings of work, striking out eight in an eventual Rays win. Overall Sonnanstine has a 3.89 ERA since August 26th.

vs TOR: Sonnanstine made his first major league start against the Blue Jays on June 5th and pitched one more game against Toronto after that later in the year. But he isn't likely to forget his infamous debut, in which Tampa Bay's bullpen blew a chance at getting him his first major league win. The team's relief corps surrendered six runs in the bottom of the ninth inning to the Jays, who rallied from an 11-6 deficit to claim a 12-11 walkoff win. It was a fitting lesson on what to expect as a Ray for Sonnanstine, one would think. Sonnanstine's second start against Toronto came on July 20th at Tropicana Field, one in which he gave up four runs over 6.2 innings in an eventual Rays win. He has a 6.59 ERA overall against Toronto. Among Jays hitters, there is no spectacular example of success that stands out as the majority of Toronto hitters have been decidedly mediocre or worse against him. However Adam Lind is 2 for 3 with a home run against the Rays' righty, while Álex Ríos has a double and a triple against Sonnanstine in seven at bats.

RH Dustin McGowan, Toronto:

Overview: Dustin McGowan closes out an extensively successful regular season for the Blue Jays, one in which the top pitching prospect finally fulfilled expectations and gave Toronto hope that he could anchor the top of their rotation. McGowan had stagnated between AAA Syracuse and the major league Blue Jays since the start of the 2006 season with an underwhelming performance track record. Coming into the season he had thrown 72.2 career major league innings with 6.69 ERA, but McGowan has really turned it around this season in putting up a 4.07 ERA over 26 starts. He has been backed by extremely sound peripheral stats and has remained consistent deep into ballgames for the Jays. He has been death to right-handed hitters, holding them to a .194/.259/.236 line over 313 plate appearances. Of mild concern for the Jays should be the fact that the aforementioned line jumps to .260/.329/.431 against lefties, but the overall body of work that McGowan has produced this season has been extremely positive for Toronto and it bodes well for their rotation in the future.

Recent Starts: McGowan managed his worst start in over three months last time out against New York. Facing the Yankees in the Bronx, McGowan walked six batters and gave up six runs on six hits in 4.1 innings of work in an eventual Toronto loss. The effort jolted his ERA upwards by 22 points. Previous to this outing however, McGowan pitched a complete game against Boston while surrendering just one run and no walks while sitting down nine Red Sox batters on strikes. A staple of McGowan has been consistency; there really have been no enormous hot streaks or swoons this season, just a constant stream of quality starts. In fact, he has a 3.70 ERA since August 26th while pitching six times. Five of those outings came against playoff contenders.

vs RAYS: McGowan has faced the Rays three times in a starting role over the last couple seasons (also pitching once in relief) and has compiled a 3.32 ERA overall in 21.2 innings of work. Other than that aforementioned relief appearance of two innings, all of that experience against Tampa Bay has come over the three starts he has made against the Rays this season. He faced the Rays just three weeks ago at Tropicana Field, racking up 12 strikeouts in eight innings of work while surrendering just two runs. His other start at the Trop against the Rays came when he gave up two runs in six innings on July 30th. To date his worst start of the season against Tampa Bay was in his second start of the year, and his only start against the Rays at SkyDome, on May 12th. He surrendered four runs over 5.2 innings in that outing. There have been a few Rays who've managed success against McGowan despite those overall numbers though. Carlos Peña is 2 for 8 with two home runs and two walks, while Jonny Gomes has a home run and a walk in six at bats. Akinori Iwamura has a double among his two hits to go along with a walk in six at bats, but on the flip side B.J. Upton hasn't reached base in nine ABs against the Toronto righty.

STARTING LINEUPS:

RAYS
DH Akinori Iwamura
2B Jorge Velandia
1B Carlos Peña
LF Greg Norton
RF Delmon Young
C Raúl Casanova
3B Joel Guzmán
CF Justin Ruggiano
SS Josh Wilson
Toronto
RF Reed Johnson
1B Matt Stairs
CF Álex Ríos
DH Frank Thomas
2B Aaron Hill
LF Adam Lind
C Gregg Zaun
3B Russ Adams
SS John McDonald

GO BULLS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
GO RAYS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!