Yunel Escobar returned to the Blue Jays' starting lineup for the first time since serving a three-game suspension for having a homophobic slur written in Spanish on his eye black during last Saturday's loss to the Red Sox. Escobar started at shortstop and batted fifth, going 0-for-4 and leaving six men on base in the Blue Jays' 11-5 loss to the Rays on Saturday night. Escobar hopes to put the incident behind him. "I'm having a hard time dealing with the situation," Escobar said through interpreter Luis Rivera. "I'm really sorry for what happened on the field... If I hurt somebody, from the bottom of my heart, I feel really sorry about it. I'm looking forward to meeting the people in Toronto and go from there." Right-hander Carlos Villanueva is experiencing more soreness than usual after his last outing in a 12-1 loss to the Rays on Friday. He gave up seven runs on eight hits over just 2 1/3 innings in that defeat, by far the shortest of his 15 starts this season. "He feels a little bit more soreness from his previous starts, which is not to be totally unexpected at this time of the year," Farrell said. "If that soreness persists, we'll take every measure to identify if there's anything going on there physically." Rays: Fuld confident he will return
Outfielder Sam Fuld, who has missed the Rays' last five games with a strained right hamstring, believes he will play again before the end of the regular season. He took batting practice and ran 10 sprints of around 120 feet before Saturday's game against the Blue Jays. Fuld missed the first 96 games of this season while recovering from wrist surgery and is batting .273 with five RBIs and seven stolen bases in 39 games. "I didn't want to push it too hard, but everything went smoothly," Fuld said. "I'd say I went about 55 to 60 percent." Worth noting
The Rays have a chance on Sunday to match their best single-season record ever against the Blue Jays, a 14-4 mark set in 2009.
Fernando Rodney has converted 43 of 45 save opportunities this year and is two saves shy of tying the team record set by Rafael Soriano in 2010.