ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (AP) — When Roberto Hernandez has started this season, the Tampa Bay Rays’ offense has usually struggled.
“We really have not supported him offensively,” manager Joe Maddon said after Saturday night’s 6-2 loss to the Toronto Blue Jays.
Hernandez (6-13) has a 5.00 ERA and is tied for the American League lead with those 13 losses.
Hernandez is 2-7 in his past 11 starts, and the Rays have scored a total of only 17 runs while he has been pitching in his 13 losses.
“I feel great. I’m concentrating on every pitch through the game and every at-bat. It’s a tough situation for me now,” Hernandez said. “The offensive support, I can’t control that. I just have to go and pitch.”
The loss ended a three-game winning streak for the Rays, who fell two games behind first-place Boston in the AL East.
J.A. Happ won for the Blue Jays in his first game at Tropicana Field since a scary injury three months ago.
Happ, who suffered a skull fracture and sprained right knee when he fell to the ground after getting hit with a liner by Desmond Jennings on May 7, allowed two runs and five hits over 5 1-3 innings.
It was his third start overall since returning from the disabled list, and his first victory since beating Kansas City on April 12.
“I was looking forward to it,” Happ said about pitching at Tropicana Field. “Probably haven’t pitched the best here and I was looking forward to having the opportunity to come and try and change that up a little bit, have a good game, keep us in the game.”
Happ (3-2) retired nine in a row before Jason Bourgeois opened the fourth with a bunt single down the first base line.
“You’ve got to congratulate him, based on what happened to him previously, how difficult that may have been,” Maddon said. “A big part of our problem tonight was how well he pitched. I thought his stuff was really good, maybe as good as I’ve seen him.”
Adam Lind homered twice for the Blue Jays. Jose Bautista hit his 28th homer of the season. Two of the homers were off Hernandez, who gave up five runs and seven hits in 5 2-3 innings.
“I know (Hernandez’s record) doesn’t look good, line-wise, but he did not throw the ball that badly,” Maddon said. “If you really want to look into the numbers, he’s been pretty good against righties. The lefties have hurt him a little bit and that’s the thing we’ve been trying to work through.”
Ben Zobrist hit a sacrifice fly and Yunel Escobar had a run-scoring single later in the fourth for Tampa Bay’s two runs.
Lind had a solo shot and Brett Lawrie scored a nifty base running play to put the Blue Jays ahead 5-2 in the sixth. Lawrie was on second and took off for third, catching reliever Alex Torres off guard. The Rays left-hander made a last-second errant throw to third that allowed Lawrie to score.
Happ’s outing came two days after Tampa Bay’s Alex Cobb allowed one run over five innings in the Rays’ 7-1 victory over Seattle, his first big league game since being hit in the head by a batted ball two months ago.
Cobb sustained a concussion after being struck on the right ear by a liner hit by Kansas City’s Eric Hosmer on June 15 at Tropicana Field.
NOTES: Blue Jays SS Jose Reyes was out of the lineup with right knee soreness and is not expected back until Tuesday. … Tampa Bay placed DH Luke Scott on the 15-day DL due to lower back spasms and reinstated RHP Brandon Gomes (strained right lat) from the 60-day DL. … OF Wil Myers was the Rays’ DH for the third consecutive game. Manager Joe Maddon said Myers is physically fine, and that the rookie handles the DH role well. Maddon said Myers will probably be back in right field on Sunday. … Jennings is on the DL with a broken left middle finger, but could return Monday.