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Bullpen nicked up following brilliant road trip

Belisario shaky in relief of Andriese; Romero optioned after outing

ST. PETERSBURG -- If the Rays were to vote on a collective MVP to this point of the season, that award would go to the bullpen. 

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Monday night's four runs surrendered by the bullpen was uncharacteristic of the group but proved to be the difference in the Rays' 8-5 loss to the Blue Jays.

The Rays' bullpen has been a strength all season, many times picking up innings that were not logged by the team's depleted starting rotation. The relief crew allowed just two runs in 22 innings during the recent five-game road trip against the Nationals and Indians, but Monday night brought another story.

Ronald Belisario took over after Jose Bautista homered off Matt Andriese with one out in the sixth to put the Blue Jays up, 4-3. Belisario had made two appearances since being selected from Triple-A Durham on Wednesday, and both were two innings and he did not allow a run in either.

Monday night, he gave up three runs in the sixth, the only inning he worked.

Video: TOR@TB: Valencia plates Colabello with RBI groundout"I didn't feel like I was really struggling with my command," Belasario said. "The umpire missed a couple of pitches, too. There's not much you can do about it. It's not my night tonight. ... It happens. Nothing that I can do about it."

Enny Romero -- who was optioned to Triple-A Durham following the game -- allowed a run in the eighth, bringing the total runs allowed by the bullpen to four -- or double what was allowed on the road trip.

"We had some guys that we wanted to [have the night] off," Rays manager Kevin Cash said about the bullpen strategy. "[The Blue Jays] pieced together a pretty big inning against Ronnie Belisario ... usually he's a ground-ball machine. They got the ball up in the air a little bit."

The silver lining is the rest of the bullpen should be rested headed into the remainder of the series, and with Chris Archer starting Tuesday night and Nate Karns on Wednesday, there's a good chance that Cash will be able to play matchups with his bullpen -- a situation when the group is most effective.

Bill Chastain is a reporter for Listen to his podcast.
Read More: Tampa Bay Rays, Ronald Belisario, Enny Romero