Buchholz makes debut in Blue Jays win
Lourdes Gurriel Jr. recorded a pair of late runs, as the Toronto Blue Jays recovered from a rough start and a defeat last time out, to beat the Tampa Bay Rays 3-1 on Saturday.
The Blue Jays win ruined a marvellous outing from reigning American League Cy Young winner Blake Snell. He pitched six innings of one-hit balls with nine strikeouts and a walk.
However, with Snell out of the game in the seventh, Toronto (5-10) pounced on reliever Chaz Roe. The rally was started with a Justin Smoak single. Before a Randal Grichuk double put runners on the second base and third to set the scene for Gurriel’s two-run double.
Teoscar Hernandez padded the Blue Jays lead with an RBI single at the end of the eighth. Ken Giles closed and worked around a one-out base hit on the ninth inning for his fourth save.
Austin Meadows drove in a sixth-inning run for the East-leading Rays (12-3). The only blemish on a stellar start from Clay Buchholz on his Blue Jays debut.
The 34-year-old right-hander went six solid innings in the no-decision. He allowed one run and six hits, with two strikeouts in his first MLB start since last September.
Buchholz had spent ten seasons within the AL East with the Boston Red Sox. He signed a one-year deal with the Blue Jays during the spring training camp. He had been rehabbing from an elbow injury suffered last season with the Arizona Diamondbacks.
Buchholz was thrilled with the win. Speaking to reporters after, he said: “That’s the best line-up I’ve ever seen from Tampa, so to come out with a win any day against that club right now, it’s a good thing for sure.
“I’ve pitched here a lot. I’ve tried to use that to my advantage, go back and look at games from previous starts that I’ve had here and just try to manipulate the baseball to make it do what I want it to do.”
Buchholz was exceptional. But, it was Snell who stole the show for most of the game.
The Blue Jays didn’t get their first base-runner until the fourth innings when Snell walked Smoak with one out. Furthermore, they did not record a hit until the bottom of the sixth. This was coming from a one-out single from Luke Maile.
The Blue Jays had gone hitless through the first five innings in five of their 15 games this season. That dangerous trend began Day one with Toronto’s home opener. Detroit’s Jordan Zimmermann took a perfect game into the seventh before it was broken up.
The Toronto hitters came into the game on Saturday with a combined .202 batting average. This making it their lowest through the first 14 games of a season in their history.
The Rays threatened during the eighth inning with a Mike Zunino lead-off triple. But Joe Biagini got two strikeouts. Before Tim Mayza got the pinch-hitter, Daniel Robertson, swinging to end the frame.
Furthermore, Thomas Pannone worked the top of the seventh to earn the win. Roe was saddled with the loss.
Toronto manager Charlie Montoyo used a video review challenge on a double play during the fourth innings when Hernandez was called out at the first. However, the call was overturned.
Montoyo had elected not to use a problem on a potential game-changing play during Friday’s loss and said before the Saturday game that he should have used it in that situation.