"Obviously at this point of the season, where we're at, we have to win every game," Friday's starter James Shields said. "As many as we can. You know, go in there and hopefully we can get the W."
With just 12 games left, Tampa Bay will look to do just that on Friday against Toronto in the series opener at Tropicana Field.
Even after a thrilling 7-4 walk-off win against the Red Sox on Thursday, in which they scored six runs in the ninth, the Rays are 3-7 in their last 10 games. They sit 5 1/2 games back of a American League Wild Card spot.
Shields took the loss in his last start against the Yankees, allowing four runs on six hits in 6 1/3 innings. However, the right-hander said he has plenty left in the tank.
"I've got some bullets left. I've thrown a few innings this year," Shields said. "But right now, I feel really good. My body feels good."
He'll oppose Blue Jays right-hander Carlos Villanueva, who surrendered just two runs on four hits to the Red Sox on Saturday, but took a no-decision in 3-2 loss.
"I'm glad I was able to keep the team in it," Villanueva said. "Go deep into the game. It was nice being out there for the first time this year in the eighth inning."
It marked his ninth quality start, as he continues to limit the opposition's production by pitching effectively with runners in scoring position and averaging 8.4 strikeouts per game.
Allowing three runs or fewer in all but three of his 14 starts, the right-hander has managed to rack up just one win since late July thanks to a lack of run support.
Blue Jays: Encarnacion returns
After missing three games with soreness in his right big toe, Edwin Encarnacion was back in the lineup for Thursday's series finale against the Yankees.
Slotted in the three-hole as the designated hitter, Encarnacion finished the game going 2-for-4.
Encarnacion took batting practice and ran sprints before the game and informed manager John Farrell he was good to return.
"He came into the training room today and felt improved from [Wednesday]," Farrell said. "While he might not be completely 100 percent, he is good enough to go right now."
Rays: Pitchers closing in on AL strikeout record
With an American League-high 1,264 strikeouts, Tampa Bay's staff is only two shy of the AL record held by the 2001 Yankees.
When manager Joe Maddon was told that his staff was close to setting the record, Maddon noted that "it just speaks to the talent of our guys."
"Also, a lot of it, too, speaks to the health of our guys," Maddon said. "It's primarily been the same group of guys out there this year, except we've had a couple of additions, but it also speaks to a power bullpen, too. They've been outrageous in their contribution."
On Friday night, the Rays will team with the Tampa Bay Lightning to promote their 20th anniversary in the National Hockey League. As part of the celebration, all pregame activities and the seventh-inning stretch performances will be related to the Lightning's celebration -- including the ceremonial first pitch from Lightning head coach Guy Boucher.
The Rays had allowed just 52 home runs at home, which is the second fewest in the Majors behind the Giants. In the last 20 years, only two AL teams have allowed fewer than 60 home runs at home over a full season: Toronto (2008, 56) and Oakland (2007, 59).