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Rays notes: Blue Jays arrive with 11-game win streak

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Published:   |   Updated: June 24, 2013 at 12:50 PM

NEW YORK - The Rays return to Tropicana Field tonight to begin a three-game series with Toronto, the team they are virtually tied with for last place in the division.

The Blue Jays bring an 11-game winning streak into the game.

"Bring 'em on," Maddon said. "You got to play them all. This division is no fun when it comes to that. You're always going to play somebody good. But then again, that makes it a lot of fun. And then we have to play Detroit right after, so where's the break? You tell me."

Maddon said he never counted the Jays out, even when things were going bad.

"They were going to come back," Maddon said. "I always felt that way."

Tonight's starter, RHP Jeremy Hellickson, said he learned Saturday of the Jays' winning streak.

"It really doesn't surprise me too much," Hellickson said. "They have a very talented offense, a lot of power and a lot of speed. If they can put some things together they're very capable of running nine, 10 wins off. There's not much I can say. I just got to go out there and pitch my game."

Hellickson has not allowed a walk in his past four starts, tying James Shields for the team record. He has pitched 25 consecutive innings without a walk.

Loney delivers again in clutch

Manager Joe Maddon said he briefly considered hitting Sean Rodriguez for 1B James Loney with the bases loaded in the seventh inning Sunday of a tie game and with Yankees LHP Boone Logan coming to the mound.

Maddon didn't for two reasons: Loney is a good two-strike hitter and he drives in runs with singles.

Moreover, Loney entered the game batting .354 this season against lefties.

Loney came through with a line drive past SS Jayson Nix on a 1-2 count that scored CF Desmond Jennings and 2B Ben Zobrist and led the Rays to a 3-1 victory.

"That lefty-righty thing is a little blown up some times," Loney said. "I feel like, still got to throw it somewhere."

Maddon said Loney was told in the spring that he would play more if he can hit left-handers. Loney said he never considered Maddon would pinch-hit for him Sunday because he has been facing lefties. The at-bat against Logan was his 66th this season against a lefty.

"I hit lefties pretty well my first few years in the big leagues and then there might have been a year or two where the numbers might not have been as good," Loney said. "But I feel like the numbers might not have been as good against righties either, so I never felt like it was a lefty-righty kind of a thing."

Loney, who tied his season high with three hits Sunday, leads the American League with a .364 road batting average.

Loney is also batting an American League-best .402 in the seventh inning or later.

Welcome dome, Wil

RF Wil Myers gets his first chance to catch fly balls at Tropicana Field tonight when he plays his first home game as a Ray. He worked out at the Trop in January during the Rays' prospect program but wasn't able to field fly balls under the roof because the field was still set up for football.

Maddon said that will be the biggest obstacle facing Myers during this homestand.

"The depth I think is sometimes different from an outfielder's perspective," Maddon said. "It's about the roof, just seeing the ball, knowing not to take your eye off the ball."

Myers brings a six-game hitting streak into his Trop debut and is the first Rays rookie with six RBIs in his first six games.

The rookie is the 187th player to hit a grand slam for his first major league homer. Also on that list is Tim Unroe, father of Riley Unroe, the Rays' second-round pick in this year's draft.

Staying put?

During an interview with Jon Paul Morosi of FOXSports.com, Rays owner Stuart Sternberg was asked about the possibility of relocation.

"There's certainly been a lot of discussion, from others within baseball, that we should get the (heck) out of (Tampa Bay)," Sternberg said. "It's not in my makeup to do that. I am committed to doing whatever I can, until I can no longer do it, to make it work there."

Noteworthy

Closer Fernando Rodney earned his 15th save and has converted each of his past six save opportunities. . Zobrist is batting .321 in 46 starts this season at second base. He is batting .226 in 22 starts in right field. . RHP Brandon Gomes (right lat strain) begins his minor-league rehab tonight. He is scheduled to pitch the first inning for Class A Charlotte in Port Charlotte. . After throwing a bullpen Sunday, everything is a go for LHP David Price (strained left triceps) to start Wednesday for Charlotte.

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