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Up next: Blue Jays

By MARC TOPKIN

© St. Petersburg Times,
published July 3, 2001


Today: 7:15 p.m., Wednesday: 4:15 p.m., Thursday: 7:15 p.m.

* * *

SCOUTING REPORT: The Jays began as contenders in the AL East, holding first place as late as May 7, but now are battling Baltimore to stay out of fourth. The Jays have jettisoned third baseman Tony Batista, and more changes are likely if things continue at the current sorry pace. Raul Mondesi and Shannon Stewart have done well, while Carlos Delgado is putting up just average numbers -- average for him, anyway: a .250 average, 22 homers, 54 RBI. Too often, the Toronto offense is all or nothing: It ranks in the top half of the league in homers and runs but the bottom half in average and on-base percentage. The pitching staff ranks in the middle of the league as well, with the bullpen blowing nine saves.

THE PAST WEEK: Having swept the first-place Red Sox last weekend at Fenway Park, the Jays went home and promptly lost three of four to the Orioles and three of four to the Red Sox, including a brutal 16-4 defeat Monday.

TAMPA BAY CONNECTIONS: Chris Michalak, tonight's starter, was released from Triple A by the Rays last spring. ... The Rays had Tony Fernandez's nephew, Nestor, in their minor-league system for three years but released him this spring.

ALL-TIME SERIES: The Jays have won six of the nine games this season, and won easily, outscoring the Rays 59-29. The Jays lead the overall series 29-18, though the Rays hold an 11-10 edge at the Trop, their best mark against an AL opponent. (They're 4-2 vs. Philadelphia.) Of further concern, the Jays have hit 59 homers against the Rays, more than any team.

WHO'S HOT: Stewart had four hits in Saturday's game and was 8-for-16 against the Red Sox. WHO'S NOT: Delgado is in a brutal slump, going 1-for-23 on the homestand, hitless in his past 22 at-bats.

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