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'Right' is all right for Rays hitters

'Right' is all right for Rays hitters

TORONTO -- It's no secret the Rays have struggled against left-handed pitchers this year. That's why Tampa Bay is feeling good about the Blue Jays' recent decision to replace a lefty starter with a righty for Wednesday's afternoon affair at Rogers Centre.

The original plan was for Toronto to start left-hander John Parrish against the Rays in the finale of the three-game set. Now, the revised plan will feature right-hander Scott Richmond taking the mound in his Major League debut.

"It's nice," said Rays manager Joe Maddon. "Anytime we see a right-hander, we'd probably prefer that."

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Entering Tuesday's game, the Rays were hitting .263 against righties, which ranked eighth in the American League. In contrast, when facing left-handed hurlers, Tampa Bay ranked 11th in the league, with a team batting average of .243.

However, Maddon was quick to point out that he has seen improvement out of his team against lefties. He cited the Rays' recent series in Oakland, where they faced a trio of left-handed starters and came out with two victories, as an example.

Nonetheless, even though Wednesday's starter for Toronto is right-handed, the manager said he knows better than to expect a smooth ride for his club.

"We've recently seen guys pitch who have not had a lot of experience and they've beaten us," Maddon said. "So, as with everybody else, it's the same old adage: Don't take anybody lightly."

Complicating matters for the Rays is the lack of video of Richmond, who pitched in an independent league in Western Canada for three years before joining the Jays' Minor League system this past offseason.

Hitters usually have the luxury of studying video from the previous outings of starting pitchers, but because of Richmond's unique circumstances, the Rays have been forced to look for other alternatives.

"We just have got to go out and play," Maddon said. "We'll just try to find as much information about him as possible about him and that's what we're trying to do now. I think he recently faced [Triple-A] Durham, so we'll be getting something out of that."

Maddon is not too worried though, figuring that the first few innings of Wednesday's game will be enough of a gauge on the Toronto starter.

"I'm not overtly concerned [about the lack of video]," said the manager. "Guys want to know how hard he throws. Does he throw a slider, curveball or changeup? Does he have a split against lefties -- he might throw something backdoor for example. Those are the kind of tidbits you'd like to know in advance.

"After the first time through the batting order, it circulates pretty well."

Pitching matchup
TB: RHP Edwin Jackson (6-7, 4.22 ERA)
For a while, Jackson was dominant in his last outing. Against the Royals last Friday, he threw a no-hitter for the first 4 2/3 innings. Jackson then surrendered a homer and struggled afterwards. The first batter in the sixth also hit a home run, and then the next walked. Just like that, Jackson was done. He went five innings, giving up two runs, two hits and two walks. Although he would've liked to have lasted longer, it was a big improvement over his last outing before that one, when he gave up six runs in 4 1/3.

TOR: RHP Scott Richmond (0-0, -.-- ERA)
Richmond was summoned from Triple-A Syracuse on Monday, when the Jays placed reliever Brian Tallet on the 15-day disabled list with a broken toe. The 28-year-old Richmond will be making his Major League debut on Wednesday. The Jays have indicated that the right-hander will be a part of the rotation for at least the time being. Richmond replaces Parrish, who was moved to the bullpen. In Double-A New Hampshire, Richmond was 5-8 with a 4.95 ERA. After being promoted to Syracuse, he went 0-2 with a 2.53 ERA, holding opponents to a .210 (25-for-119) average. He walked six and struck out 31 across 35 innings.

Tidbits
After Tuesday's 3-0 win over Toronto, the Rays have shut out opponents 10 times this year. ... On Tuesday, Carl Crawford picked up his eighth triple of the season, which tied him for first in the AL in that category. ... In the third inning of Tuesday's game, Eric Hinske picked up his 15th home run of the season and 100th in his career.

Tickets
 Buy tickets now to catch the game in person.

On the Internet
 MLB.TV
 Gameday Audio
•  Gameday
•  Official game notes

On television

On radio
• WHNZ 1250, WGES 680 (Español)

Up next
• Thursday: Off-day
• Friday: Rays (Scott Kazmir, 8-5, 2.84) vs. Tigers (Zach Miner, 5-3, 3.65), 7:10 p.m. ET
• Saturday: Rays (Andy Sonnanstine, 10-6, 4.65) vs. Tigers (TBD), 6:10 p.m. ET

David Singh is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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