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Up next: Rays at Blue Jays

By KEVIN KELLY, Times Staff Writer
© St. Petersburg Times
published July 19, 2002

TONIGHT: 7:05

SATURDAY: 4:05

SUNDAY: 1:05

SCOUTING REPORT: The Blue Jays are out of contention in the AL East, but have won six of seven after Thursday's victory over the Orioles.

General manager J.P. Ricciardi has whittled payroll down with the trades involving Raul Mondesi and Pedro Borbon. But don't be surprised if pitchers Steve Parris, Esteban Loaiza and Kelvim Escobar or outfielders Jose Cruz, who has been out with a hamstring injury, and Shannon Stewart are dealt for prospects.

The longer Escobar sticks around, the likelihood of him losing his job to Cliff Politte as the closer increases. Blue Jays relievers had allowed 11 earned runs in 11 innings pitched in their past four games entering Wednesday.

Third baseman Eric Hinske is a candidate to win rookie of the year and Carlos Delgado, slowed lately by a knee injury, has a .333 batting average, 4 homers and 13 RBIs against the Rays this season.

TAMPA BAY CONNECTIONS: Toronto manager Carlos Tosca is a USF graduate and lives in Valrico. He played at Brandon High and began his coaching career at King High before moving to USF and Eckerd College. Rays second baseman Brent Abernathy was a Jays prospect before the Rays acquired him in July 2000 for Mark Guthrie and Steve Trachsel. Rays pitcher Tanyon Sturtze was signed by Ricciardi when he was an Oakland scout. Jays catcher Tom Wilson was a Rays minor-leaguer.

ALL-TIME/SEASON SERIES: The Blue Jays lead the season series 6-4 and hold a 38-28 advantage all-time. Tampa Bay is 10-22 at SkyDome.

WHO'S HOT: Hinske is hitting .461 with 2 homers, 3 doubles, 5 RBIs and 8 runs in his past seven games.

WHO'S NOT: Second baseman Joe Lawrence is batting .152 this month with 7 strikeouts, 3 walks, 5 RBIs and 4 runs.

-- KEVIN KELLY


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