TORONTO -- In a season that has become more about long-term development than immediate results, Ryan Borucki is proving to be a pretty good student as he learns to deal with the highs and lows of the big league grind.
Borucki appeared to be in line for a short start on Tuesday night as he loaded the bases and threw 31 pitches in a difficult first inning against the Rays. But unlike some starts earlier this year, the promising rookie did not back down, and instead found a way to bounce back with six-plus quality innings in a 4-0 loss to the Rays at Rogers Centre.
The outing was reminiscent of a start Borucki had against the Yankees on May 19. In that outing, Borucki threw 44 pitches and could not get the elusive third out in a five-run first inning. It was an entirely different story against the Rays, as Borucki faced similar obstacles, but he found a way to limit the damage and stay in the game.
"I just continued to make pitches, not let the outside environment get the best of me," Borucki said. "Obviously the first time at Yankee Stadium, I was a little hyped up and I think [I was] trying a bit too hard. Today, I've been comfortable here and it's just like any day. Continue to make pitches."
Similar to the start at Yankee Stadium, Borucki wasn't hit hard in the first inning. He allowed one infield hit and issued a pair of walks to load the bases with two outs on Tuesday. He faced exactly that same situation vs. the Yankees, but instead of giving up multiple hits with two outs, this time Borucki worked the count to 2-2 before striking out Willy Adames on a 92.9-mph sinker.
From the third inning until the seventh, Borucki retired 12 of the 13 batters he faced. The only Rays hitter to reach base during that time was Carlos Gomez, who made it to first after an error by Devon Travis. Borucki didn't walk a batter after the first inning, scattering three hits and striking out five while throwing 64 of his 96 pitches for strikes. This was Borucki's second quality start over his last three outings, and it marked the seventh time in 13 starts that he allowed three earned runs or fewer.
• Pillar nominated for Clemente Award
"I was rushing a little bit," Borucki said in reference to how he started the game. "[Manager John Gibbons] noticed it. Just told me to settle down a little bit. I took a couple extra deep breaths when I was out there, slowed my game down, and then my stuff started to work a little bit."
Toronto's offense didn't exactly do its starting pitcher any favors in this game. Travis led off the game with a double to right-center field, but he was left stranded at the end of the first, and the Blue Jays didn't get another hit until Aledmys Diaz opened the sixth with a single to right. Justin Smoak and Kendrys Morales were the only other Blue Jays players to reach base.
The Blue Jays' inability to score against the Rays' pitching staff has been an ongoing trend this year. Toronto is 2-9 vs. Tampa Bay this season, and the Blue Jays are batting .169 (56-for-331) in the 11 games, which is the club's lowest average vs. any team this season. The Blue Jays were shut out for the ninth time this season, which matches their total from all of 2017.
"They're good," Gibbons said of a Rays team that used seven pitchers to complete the shutout. "Just watching them, they have some good arms. Guys with some good breaking balls. They're doing a heck of a job. They're building that team pretty good. They have some really good position players, too. They have a ton of speed … they're having a nice year."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Where's he going? The Blue Jays' offense got off to a promising start when Travis led off the game with a double and Morales was later hit by a pitch to put runners on first and third with one out. The momentum soon changed when Morales took off for second in a botched hit-and-run play that saw Randal Grichuk strike out swinging, which left Toronto's veteran DH caught in between bases. Instead of slowing on his way to second, which would have forced a rundown, Morales kept running and was easily thrown out at second for the final out of the inning before Travis could score.
Petricka can't hold: Borucki was pulled from the game after he opened the seventh inning by hitting Kevin Kiermaier with a pitch. Jake Petricka entered out of the bullpen and quickly got himself into a lot of trouble. Ji-Man Choi doubled, Tommy Pham tripled and Matt Duffy singled as the Rays added three runs late to put the game out of reach. Petricka was on a streak of four scoreless appearances out of Toronto's bullpen at the time of his latest setback.
The Blue Jays have recorded five hits or fewer in each of their last seven games against the Rays. That seven-game stretch is tied for the longest such skid vs. one opponent in the live ball era (since 1920). The Orioles held the Washington Senators to five hits or fewer in seven consecutive games from Sept. 11, 1968, to April 18, 1969.
Right-hander Aaron Sanchez (3-5, 5.22 ERA) will take the mound when the Blue Jays close out their three-game series against the Rays on Wednesday night at Rogers Centre, with first pitch scheduled for 7:07 p.m. ET. Sanchez will be searching for his first win since June 3, and he's coming off a start in which he allowed five runs over 4 1/3 innings vs. the Marlins. Tampa Bay is set to counter with right-hander Tyler Glasnow (0-2, 3.23).