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Toronto struggles when facing Rays in Florida

ST. PETERSBURG -- The Blue Jays are attempting to reverse what has been an ugly start to the year, but they have the unenviable task of trying to do it at Tropicana Field.

Toronto has lost 17 consecutive completed road series against Tampa Bay dating back to 2007. Sixteen of those series took place at Tropicana Field while one series was held at Disney's Wide World of Sports in Orlando, Fla., in 2008.

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It's the third-longest road losing streak in the history of the American League. The other two skids belong to the St. Louis Browns, who lost 19 consecutive series to the Yankees (1946-51), and 18 series to the Red Sox (1949-53).

"They've always been a good home team," Blue Jays manager John Gibbons said. "You look over the years, they have that magic late in the games, a lot of walk-off wins that are on the highlights all of the time.

"But when it comes down to it, they're a good team to begin with and you have to play good at your home field anyways. But it definitely has been a tough spot for us."

The Blue Jays entered play Monday night 10 games below .500. There's plenty of time remaining in the year, but with Toronto 9 1/2 games back in the AL East coming into the series opener, the club is dangerously close to being buried in its own division.

The lofty expectations from the offseason and again in Spring Training now seem like a distant memory. Gibbons has already conceded the Blue Jays didn't handle the hype very well, but there isn't one particular issue that has plagued the team.

Instead, it's that the 25-man roster hasn't really clicked in any specific area.

"We did embrace it, we haven't dealt with it really well, I'll put it that way," Gibbons said. "We haven't played good enough baseball to be any better than where we're at right now. We think that's going to change. You can't bury yourself too deep, otherwise it doesn't matter.

"We haven't hit enough over an extended period of time, we haven't hit enough, and defense, early on, bit us pretty good. We've cleaned it up a little bit, but you have to have all of those things. There's a lot of good teams in this league top to bottom, a lot of teams that expected they were the team that could win it all, so we certainly didn't expect it to be easy."

Gregor Chisholm is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, North of the Border, and follow him on Twitter @gregorMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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