ST. PETERSBURG -- The Rays' 4-1 victory over the Blue Jays on Tuesday night at Tropicana Field was a positive reflection of the club's "bullpen day" strategy, sealing a second consecutive win and clinching the three-game series."Obviously, the story of the game was the bullpen, the way they came in
ST. PETERSBURG -- The Rays' 4-1 victory over the Blue Jays on Tuesday night at Tropicana Field was a positive reflection of the club's "bullpen day" strategy, sealing a second consecutive win and clinching the three-game series.
"Obviously, the story of the game was the bullpen, the way they came in and pieced it together," Rays manager Kevin Cash said. "[The Blue Jays had a] pretty hot offense coming into this series, for sure."
Ryne Stanek started, and the hard-throwing right-hander did everything an "opener" should do, looking particularly nasty while retiring all six batters he faced, striking out three.
"I think the most telling thing is he got ahead and threw a lot of strikes," Cash said. "When he's doing that, we're going to see a lot of overpowering outings.
"We all know this is the big leagues and 98 [mph] can get turned around just as easy as anything else. But saying that, the more he throws it in the zone and establishes that he's got two or three pitches that night that he can throw in the zone, he's going to have some success."
Stanek added: "It was one of those things -- going out there attacking the zone and being aggressive is something that I need to do to be successful. And beyond that, make sure my secondary stuff is able to be strikes."
Austin Pruitt followed Stanek, allowing a run on four hits in 2 2/3 innings, but limiting the damage in the fifth when the Blue Jays had runners on second and third with no outs and managed to score just one run.
Jonny Venters, Chaz Roe and Jose Alvarado cobbled together 3 1/3 scoreless innings as a bridge to Sergio Romo, who got the final three outs to preserve the win and earn his second save of the season.
"Lately, we've been doing good coming out of the bullpen, attacking the zone early and getting outs," said Roe, who noted that Stanek set the tone. "He did a heckuva job. He attacked the zone with his fastball and used his split off that. He looked amazing tonight."
Wilson Ramos got the Rays' offense started with a two-run homer in the third. Joey Wendle and Mallex Smith added RBI singles in the sixth to push the lead to 4-1.
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
When Willy Adames doubled to put runners at second and third with no outs in the bottom of the sixth, Blue Jays manager John Gibbons brought in right-hander Joe Biagini to replace left-handed starter Jaime Garcia. Cash responded by sending Wendle to the plate to pinch-hit for Christian Arroyo. The strategy paid off when Wendle singled to the right side to extend the Rays' lead to 3-1.
"Joey's come through quite a bit," Cash said. "The matchup, for them to go to the righty, I guess they could have walked him to load the bases. But I felt he was going to get some pitches to hit and he was the right guy to come up there in that situation."
BACK IN ACTION
Kevin Kiermaier (torn ligament in right thumb) returned to action Tuesday night. Serving as the DH in a Florida State League game for Class A Advanced Charlotte, he went 2-for-4 with two singles and a walk. He's scheduled to play center field for Charlotte on Wednesday.
HE SAID IT
"I mean, I would hope so! I don't know how you quantify that. I threw strikes and passed the ball off to Pruitt. That, I would say, was all right." -- Stanek, on if he got credited with a "quality open" for his performance
Wilmer Font will start as the Rays deploy their bullpen to close out a three-game series with the Blue Jays in a 1:10 p.m. ET contest at Tropicana Field on Wednesday. Font has pitched to a 3.24 ERA in five appearances (one start) with the Rays. J.A. Happ will start for the Blue Jays.
Bill Chastain has covered the Rays for MLB.com since 2005.