ST. PETERSBURG -- Tampa Bay's bullpen certainly pulled its weight in the three-game series against Toronto, which ended Wednesday afternoon with a 1-0 walk-off win at Tropicana Field.Matt Duffy's RBI single with two outs in the ninth drove home Mallex Smith and delivered the win, giving the Rays a sweep
ST. PETERSBURG -- Tampa Bay's bullpen certainly pulled its weight in the three-game series against Toronto, which ended Wednesday afternoon with a 1-0 walk-off win at Tropicana Field.
Matt Duffy's RBI single with two outs in the ninth drove home Mallex Smith and delivered the win, giving the Rays a sweep of the Blue Jays, moving the team to 32-35.
"Well, it's two days in a row where the bullpen came up and picked us up in a big win," Rays manager Kevin Cash said. "We won the last two ballgames because of their performance. Whether they're opening, starting -- whatever you want to call it. But they're really providing a lot for us at this point.
"To be able to shut a team down for nine innings is very challenging for a team to do in this league. [The bullpen] did it. They pieced it together really well. And then Duffy comes up and gets the big hit."
No starting pitchers found their way to the mound for Tampa Bay during the 27 innings played in the series, the second time that's happened this season.
Wilmer Font started for the Rays, and he struggled with command early on, throwing 28 pitches in the first. Had Font been forced to exit the game, Tampa Bay would have been in a lurch. Instead, the right-hander righted the ship and pitched 3 1/3 scoreless innings.
"It was a big boost for us," Cash said. "The first inning he looked like he was kind of feeling his way through it a little bit. I give him a lot of credit for sitting down and figuring out that he just needed to let it go a little bit more. And he did that, and got a little more efficient and got deep. Our goal was to get him a little deeper than what we typically do. ... He really threw well after that first inning."
Matt Andriese added 3 2/3 scoreless innings, then Diego Castillo finished off the final two innings to pick up the win.
The bullpen allowed just five runs in the series, and just one run in the final two games.
"It just shows what good of arms we have [in the bullpen]," Andriese said. "We go out there to compete. Whenever we're called upon, we go out there and try to do our jobs. Today was impressive just to have every guy step up. Font, myself, Castillo. Just throw up zeroes. It's good to try and get our team rolling. And then to pull that off with the walk-off win, it's huge."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Mallex sets the table: Smith's one-out double got the Rays going in the ninth. The speedster moved to third on a groundout to bring Duffy to the plate. After watching strike one, he connected on a 94-mph fastball and drove it through the gap between third and short. Smith raced home with the game's only run and Duffy was mobbed at first base.
"In my mind, once Mallex got to third there, I just thought, 'OK, really make sure you get out of the box extra hard here in case it's a ground ball,'" Duffy said. "I just wanted to give myself the best chance to beat it out in case it's an infield hit."
Font works out of trouble: Blue Jays starter J.A. Happ was dominant from the outset, but Font was able to escape jams to keep runs off of the board early. Font induced a crucial double play to end the second inning, keeping a potential rally from gaining steam, and allowing Cash to limit his bullpen usage to three relievers.
Seunghwan Oh hit C.J. Cron with a pitch in the sixth inning, which marked the 13th time Cron has been hit by a pitch this season. That leaves the Rays slugger 11 shy of Brandon Guyer's club record of 24 set in 2015.
HE SAID IT
"A lot of confidence. The pressure is off at this point. We are starting to roll a little bit, feeling good, and we are going to keep that going." -- Jake Bauers, on how much confidence the sweep gives the Rays heading to New York to play the Yankees
Blake Snell will start for the Rays when they open a four-game series against the Yankees in New York in a 7:05 p.m. ET contest Thursday. Snell is 3-0 with a 0.38 ERA over his past four starts. Since being recalled on Aug. 8, he is 13-4 with a 2.52 ERA. Right-hander Domingo German will start for the Yanks.
Bill Chastain has covered the Rays for MLB.com since 2005.