Yarbrough Settles The Game Down, Offense Rallies To VictoryFollow @Steve_Kinsella1
St. Petersburg, FL – The Tampa Bay Rays rallied for two runs in the bottom of the eighth inning to defeat the Toronto Blue Jays 5-3.
Ryan Thompson (2-1, 3.18 ERA) picks up the win for Tampa Bay who improve to 11-10 and in the process snap a mini-two game slide and a four game home losing skid. Andrew Kittredge worked the ninth inning earning his first save of the year.
Jordan Romano (1-1, 4.91 ERA) took the loss for the Blue Jays who fall to 9-11 on the season.
The game didn’t start the way Brent Honeywell or the Rays had hoped. With two Blue Jays on base and two outs in the first inning, Randall Grichuk popped up behind first base. Yandy Diaz, on what would have been a nice catch for the final out, got to the ball but had it pop in and out of his glove falling harmlessly to the ground. Grichuk sent the next pitch 407 feet over the left field wall for a 3-run homer giving the Jays an early 3-0 lead.
Honeywell walked Marcus Semien to continue the inning before retiring Lourdes Gurriel Jr. on a line out to left to end the first inning and his start. In his one inning of work he allowed three earned runs on three hits and a walk while striking out one. He threw 30 pitches with 19 for strikes. He only generated two swinging strikes.
Honeywell was optioned to the alternate site after the game. “[Rowdy] Tellez finds a hole in a shifted spot, then the play with Yandy going to the net those are never easy plays.” Kevin Cash said after the game. “I thought Brent was fine, he was frustrated but he’ll be fine.”
Ryan Yarbrough entered the game in the second inning and kept the Blue Jays lineup quiet for 5.2 scoreless innings allowing just four hits while striking out six, walking one, and hitting a batter.
“Comes in holds it right there. Just bought us a lot of time. We were having fits with Ray he was really tough.” Cash said. “Yarbs kind of went toe to toe with him quieting their offense to allow us to somehow find a way to get back in the ballgame. Fortunately for us we did, but Yarbs work was spectacular.”
Yarbrough threw 88 pitches in his 5.2-innings of work and had several quick innings. “I think I had a couple [quick innings] after Zunino had the home run.” Yarbrough said. “Just really trying to get our guys back in the batters box to let the guys build off that momentum too. Just trying to be really aggressive and I feel that was way better today than it has been.”
His aggressiveness came from something one of the writers had pointed out to him about his first pitch strike percentage not being where it historically had been and he realized it wasn’t where he would like it either. “I feel like that was a huge thing in getting ahead of the count right away and then a lot of cutters in to make guys uncomfortable and then really just expanding off that one way or another.” Yarbrough explained. “Really having an idea of what I’m wanting to do at all times and just having a really good game plan with Zunino tonight and kind of keep them off balance that way.”
While Yarbrough kept the Blue Jays quiet, the Rays offense came back to tie the game with a run in the second and two in the sixth.
Mike Zunino got the Rays on the board with a solo homer in the bottom of the second off Blue Jays starter Robby Ray to cut the deficit to 3-1. It was Zunino’s fourth home run of the season.
It was another big hit for Brosseau. “Impressive in the fact that Bross first two at-bats [Robbie] Ray kind of had his way with him.” Cash said. “Bross didn’t get frustrated and got a pitch he could handle and tied the ballgame up for us. We’ve kind of known for awhile now that he comes up with some big hits and today was another one.”
Ryan Thompson kept the Blue Jays off the scoreboard for the final out of the seventh and eighth inning. It wasn’t smooth sailing though as the Blue Jays loaded the bases with 2-outs in the 8th but Thompson was able to strike out Alejandro Kirk to end the threat.
The Rays rallied for a pair of runs in the bottom of the eight to take a 5-3 lead. Jordan Romano entered for the Blue Jays and seemed to be bothered by the Tropicana Field crowd which was chanting “ugh” or something along those lines every time he crouched on the mound prior to delivering the pitch.
He walked the first two batters before Manuel Margot blistered a ball through the legs of Cavan Biggio and into the left field corner to score Brandon Lowe. Bo Bichette‘s relay throw nailed Mike Brosseau at home but Margot made it to third on the throw.
The play was interesting as Kevin Cash had first put the bunt sign on for the first pitch. “Just going in there trying to hard contact. They actually changed the signs.” Margot said. “I was going to do a sacrifice but after that my mentality changed and I just went in there to make hard contact.”
Kevin Kiermaier sent an infield groundball to Marcus Semien that scored Margot giving the Rays a 5-3 lead heading to the 9th. It was a huge play scored on a play that they often practice. “Manny just got a great jump, a great read, it’s something that they practice all the time it’s nice that it comes in.” Cash said. “KK puts the ball in play off a tough lefty and Manny got a great jump where they couldn’t get a throw off just shows how good of a jump they got.”
Andre Kittredge came in to work the ninth inning to secure the win picking up his first save on the year. Using Kittredge to close a game again shows the versatility of the Rays bullpen. “We need all those guys to be versatile right now while we’re nixed up whatever role.” Cash said. “They seem to appreciate whenever they got the ball in their hands. We appreciate them, whether it’s Kit, Thompson, Diego to have as much versatility with those guys as possible can really help us.”