ST. PETERSBURG -- Blue Jays pitching was on a mini-roll recently, getting seven consecutive quality starts from their rotation. But that streak came to an end on Monday night, as right-hander Sam Gaviglio, staked to a lead three times by his offense, struggled in an 8-4 loss to the Rays
ST. PETERSBURG -- Blue Jays pitching was on a mini-roll recently, getting seven consecutive quality starts from their rotation. But that streak came to an end on Monday night, as right-hander Sam Gaviglio, staked to a lead three times by his offense, struggled in an 8-4 loss to the Rays at Tropicana Field, halting Toronto's four-game winning streak.
"He was off, you could tell,'' Blue Jays manager John Gibbons said of Gaviglio. "That's not his game. It was a battle for him. He was off with his command and that's the name of his game.''
Gaviglio lasted just 3 1/3 innings, surrendering seven hits and five earned runs. He was chased by a two-run homer by rookie first baseman Jake Bauers, who gave the Rays a 5-4 lead they wouldn't lose. It was Bauers' first Major League home run.
"I was trying to go in, and the ball ran back middle,'' said Gaviglio, who pitched seven scoreless innings against the Yankees in his last start, but answered with the shortest stint of his 18 Major League starts. "I was a little up in the zone early. I wasn't executing pitches the way I normally do. Just up in the zone. We're talking a couple of inches, but that's big for me. I need to be down.''
The night began well for the Blue Jays. Kendrys Morales slammed a two-out RBI single in the first. After the Rays tied it, Toronto regained the lead on Teoscar Hernandez's two-run homer in the third.
Gaviglio couldn't handle prosperity. The two-run lead disappeared when the Rays tied it, 3-3, in the third on consecutive two-out RBI singles from Willy Adames and Mallex Smith.
The Blue Jays again took the lead in the fourth. Morales led off with a double, advanced to third on Russell Martin's one-out base hit and scored on Randal Grichuk's RBI single.
From there, though, the Rays took off, spurred by Bauers' two-run homer, then a three-run seventh inning, sparked by a costly two-run play in which reliever John Axford was charged with two errors.
After falling behind, the Blue Jays turned punchless. Against Rays starter Ryan Yarbrough (5-2) and three relievers, Toronto had only three baserunners during the final five innings.
MOMENT THAT MATTERED
The Blue Jays had early control of the game, leading 4-3 in the fourth inning. They had runners on first and second with one out and Yarbrough was on the ropes. But Toronto couldn't land the knockout punch -- or get the ball out of the infield. Yarbrough coaxed Aledmys Diaz into a popout and Devon Travis into a soft liner to second.
MITEL REPLAY OF THE DAY
The wheels came off for Axford in the seventh. With the bases loaded and no outs, Rays second baseman Joey Wendle hit a chopper back to the mound. Axford bobbled it to the ground, fumbled to retrieve it, then threw wide of catcher Russell Martin on the attempted force play. Axford covered home, but Wilson Ramos still scored all the way from second base, sliding in ahead of Axford's tag. Gibbons asked for a replay on the tag play, but the safe call was confirmed.
"It's such a rare play, but it's never an easy play,'' Gibbons said. "He got what he wanted. When you bobble it and start rushing, that's what happens.''
It was the 11th consecutive defeat for the Blue Jays against a left-handed starter. This season, the Blue Jays are 22-18 against right-handed starters and 8-18 against left-handed starters.
YOU GOTTA SEE THIS
Blue Jays third baseman Yangervis Solarte hit a one-out double in the first inning off Yarbrough. According to Statcast™, the pitch was 0.71 feet high, making it the lowest pitch this season that resulted in an extra-base hit.
HE SAID IT
"It was the first time in a while I can remember us scoring a bunch of runs early here. Every time we did, they came back and answered and took the lead. Then they broke it open late.'' -- Gibbons
The Blue Jays will start left-hander Jaime Garcia (2-4, 5.57 ERA) as they face another of the Rays' "bullpen days'' on Tuesday, when the clubs meet at 7:10 p.m. ET in the middle portion of a three-game series at Tropicana Field. Garcia took a no-decision in his previous start against the Orioles despite allowing one run in six innings. The Rays, who are 4-7 on bullpen days, will start right-hander Ryne Stanek.
** Joey Johnston ** is a contributor to MLB.com based in St. Petersburg.