The Tampa Bay Rays have played 18 of their last 24 games away from Tropicana Field, so the long homestand that begins tonight is welcomed.


“This last month it feels like we've been on the road every day,” said Jeremy Hellickson, tonight's starter as Tampa Bay opens a four-game series with Toronto. “We had a homestand (six games), but it felt like we weren't home at all, so it will be nice to get back home.”


Maddon sees this as a good chance for his team to smooth out a few problems.


“I want to believe we can get our pitching back in order in our ballpark,” he said. “That's one of the things I'm looking forward to more than anything. The offense is the sexy part of the game, but we don't win unless we pitch like we can, and we have not pitched like we can to this point.”


After four games with the Blue Jays (last in AL East), there are three with the Padres (last in NL West) and three with the Red Sox (first in AL East).

The first seven games offer the Rays (14-16) a chance to get above .500.


“It would be a good time to go out and sweep everybody, but you can't look that far ahead,” Tampa Bay's Kelly Johnson said. “You just have to do the whole one-game-at-a-time thing; unfortunately you've got to say it, but it's true. Just take care of business that day.”

The weather wasn't always kind on the chilly roll through Chicago, Kansas City and Denver.