TORONTO -- It took Toronto until the eighth inning of their final game in April, but a rally led by Russell Martin and Jose Bautista gave the Blue Jays a 3-1 win over Tampa Bay on Sunday and their first back-to-back wins of the 2017 season.Bautista's RBI double brought the
TORONTO -- It took Toronto until the eighth inning of their final game in April, but a rally led by Russell Martin and Jose Bautista gave the Blue Jays a 3-1 win over Tampa Bay on Sunday and their first back-to-back wins of the 2017 season.
Bautista's RBI double brought the Blue Jays even at 1-1 before Martin delivered, tucking a single just inside the right-field line and bringing home the game-winning run.
Pinch-hitter Ezequiel Carrera provided some insurance with an RBI single up the middle off Rays reliever Alex Colome later in the inning. Toronto is the final team in Major League Baseball to record its first back-to-back wins.
"Yeah, our record stinks right now," said Toronto manager John Gibbons after the game. "But every night they hang in there and make a run at it. I tip my hat to our guys for that. It would be easy to pack it in, fall behind late when you're facing the better relievers, shut down. They haven't done that."
Toronto's comeback was made possible by some heavy lifting from the bullpen. Starter Aaron Sanchez was forced to leave the game after the first inning with a split nail, handing off to Dennis Tepera, who tossed 3 1/3 scoreless innings. Aaron Loup followed up with two of his own before Dominic Leone, Joe Smith, and J.P. Howell bridged the gap to Roberto Osuna for his second save in two days.
"Coming into the game, I had a little different mindset today, knowing that I had to go multiple innings," Tepera said after setting a new career high with five strikeouts. "So I just told myself to go nice and easy and fluid, and not overthrow. I realized something today. It's easier to stay smooth and just go with the delivery."
Chris Archer kept Toronto's lineup in check over 7 1/3 innings, allowing just one earned run on four hits and two walks while striking out five on 112 pitches. This performance lowered Archer's ERA to 3.43 on the season.
"Tough loss. Archer was outstanding," Rays manager Kevin Cash said. "Their guys combined, they were outstanding. They kept us off balance. I couldn't be happier, more impressed, the way Archer threw the ball. Gave us a chance to win. They just kind of pieced together an inning there. Hit some balls where we weren't."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
The 1,000 Club: Bautista's RBI double was hit No. 1,000 for his career in a Blue Jays uniform. He became the ninth player in franchise history to reach that total with Tony Fernandez as the all-time leader in club history with 1,583. Bautista finished the afternoon 2-for-4 with a run scored and an RBI and he was also involved in some drama.
During the first inning, Archer threw a pitch behind Bautista that prompted home-plate umpire Jim Wolf to issue warnings to both dugouts. There were no further altercations after the incident but Bautista stared at Archer for a long time following the pitch and it came one day after Toronto reliever hit outfielder Steven Souza Jr. with a fastball on his left hand.
"I'll get to enjoy it when my career is over and hopefully I'll get some more," Bautista said after the win, "but it does kind of bring you back to the long time I've been here and the success that I've enjoyed. It's always fun when you can do it while contributing to a win."
Safety squeeze: Tampa Bay and Toronto were locked into a scoreless tie until the Rays pieced together a rally in the eighth inning. The Rays put runners on the corners with one out for No. 9 hitter Daniel Robertson, who turned to bunt for a safety squeeze. Robertson managed to get it far enough down the first-base line that Smith did not have a play at the plate and instead had to take the out at first. Logan Morrison scored the go-ahead run.
"The goal is, you don't want to hit [the bunt] too hard to the first baseman whose crashing," Cash said. "If you can get it to the pitcher, kind of, at that angle, it worked out perfectly, because it's a very difficult play for the pitcher to turn around and fire home. Logan Morrison, obviously, not the fastest guy. But it was a perfect bunt to allow that to happen. Robby had a great game. He played tremendous at shortstop."
"You have one of the best closers in the game coming in, so you have full trust, full conviction that he's going to get the job done. It was a tough situation to bring him in. Definitely asking a lot of him, especially in April. But regardless, I thought that he was going to get the job done. And, I think he'll get the job done next time." -- Archer on what he was thinking when he left the game with one out in the eighth and a runner on second with Colome coming into the game
"Maybe he thought there was some intent and that's why I would imagine the league would step up like they do most of the time. I would be disappointed if they didn't. They have to maintain that, whatever the word is, continuity." -- Gibbons when asked about the warnings issued earlier in the game and Archer throwing a fastball behind Bautista
<br .231="" 1979="" 2004.="" 2015="" 7-15="" a="" allowed="" also="" and="" april.="" avoid="" becoming="" behind="" blue="" city="" dropped="" first="" for="" franchise="" helped="" history="" in="" it="" jays="" kansas="" leagues="" loss="" major="" new="" not="" p="" percentage="" rangers="" record="" road="" second="" series="" setting="" since="" single="" team="" the="" to="" toronto="" translates="" went="" which="" win="" winning="" worst="">SANCHEZ EXITS EARLY
Sanchez was forced out of the game in his first start since being activated from the disabled list with a blister on the same finger where his fingernail split. All 13 of Sanchez's pitches Sunday were fastballs, straying from the curveball that would cause his blister the most trouble. The right-hander recently underwent a procedure to remove part of that fingernail and completed a throwing session on Friday without any setbacks. More >
"A very good job by the bullpen," Sanchez said. "I know they've been struggling a lot lately but today they showed who they really were. We got the big win. Great defense behind them. Timely hitting ... we answered back with three. It's tough for me to have to put those guys through something like that but it was just one of those situations where we didn't know this was going to happen. They stepped up and did their part."
Rays:Jake Odorizzi (1-1, 4.15) will start when the Rays open a two-game series against the Marlins on Monday in a 7:10 p.m. ET contest at Marlins Park. Odorizzi will be making the 100th start of his Rays career, making him the sixth Ray all-time to reach 100 starts with the team. He is 2-1 with a 4.29 ERA in four career starts against the Marlins.
Blue Jays:Marco Estrada (0-1, 2.70 ERA) will open the Blue Jays series against the Yankees on Monday in New York, where he'll face one of baseball's most productive lineups. The right-hander has been locked in over his last three starts, however, allowing just two earned runs over 19 innings while striking out 24.
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Keegan Matheson is a reporter for MLB.com based in Toronto.
Bill Chastain has covered the Rays for MLB.com since 2005.