ST. PETERSBURG, Florida - Manager John Gibbons is making a significant lineup change as his Blue Jays attempt to win back-to-back games for only the second time this season.
Henry Blanco, for the first time this year, will start a game not being pitched by R.A. Dickey. He'll be battery mates with Mark Buehrle. J.P. Arencibia starts the game on the bench.
"Just want to run one game like that and see," said Gibbons. "You know, Mark, it's been a tough go for him and we'll just change up the catcher and see if that does anything."
Clearly unhappy, Arencibia wouldn't comment other than to say, "Ask Gibby." Gibbons acknowledged Arencibia wasn't happy when informed of the decision.
"Well yeah, he's not happy," said Gibbons. "I didn't expect him to (be) but it's just something I want to look at tonight."
Gibbons insisted the decision was his alone, saying there was no input from Buehrle.
The Blue Jays need to get Buehrle going. In six starts, the left-hander and four-time All-Star is 1-2 with a bloated 6.43 ERA. If there's comfort to be found, it's in the fact that April has traditionally been Buehrle's worst month. May has been his best; he's posted a career ERA of 3.28.
"Mark's a control guy; he's a finesse pitcher," said Gibbons. "He lives on the corners, keeping the ball down and yeah I think he's getting there. (Command is) usually the last thing to come, that part of the game, but he is close. I mean, we need him, we need him to have a good year for us and I think he will."
Arencibia, 27, leads all American League catchers in a number of offensive categories including home runs (8), RBI (16), extra base hits (15), and total bases (58) and he's tied for first among catchers in hits (27).
The Blue Jays enter the four-game set in Tampa Bay with a record of 11-21, buried in the AL East's basement and with a record better than only Houston and Miami – both pushovers undertaking extensive rebuilds. Toronto has won only one of 10 series this season.
BLUE JAYS STRUGGLES AT TROPICANA FIELD
Toronto has lost 17 consecutive road series against the Rays (16 at Tropicana Field, one in Orlando at Disney's Wide World of Sports in 2008).
Dating back to 2007, the Blue Jays have won only 14 of 54 road games against Tampa Bay.