With every outing, R.A. Dickey feels he’s getting closer to his Cy Young Award form of last season.
Dickey won his second straight start, Edwin Encarnacion hit a tiebreaking, bases-loaded double in the seventh inning, and the Toronto Blue Jays beat the Tampa Bay Rays 7-5 Monday.
”I’ve felt like I’ve been stuck in a quagmire for the last week, two weeks,” Dickey said. ”So it’s nice to feel like you’ve got at least one foot out of it.
”I’m not going to say I feel great,” Dickey continued. ”I’ve had a few maladies over the season, and I’m hopeful to continue to progress. But I’m not all the way there yet.”
Dickey (4-5) allowed three runs – two earned – and four hits in a season-high eight innings as the Blue Jays won their fourth straight home game. The reigning NL Cy Young winner walked four and struck out five.
”You look forward to when he takes the mound,” Blue Jays manager John Gibbons said.
Dickey has walked 28 batters in 62 innings this season. He walked 54 in 233 2-3 innings while pitching for the New York Mets last year.
”Still walking more guys than I hope to, which is causing my pitch counts to be higher,” Dickey said. ”You’ve just got to keep grinding it out.”
Casey Janssen gave up a two-run homer to former Toronto shortstop Yunel Escobar in the ninth. Booed by the crowd of 29,885, Escobar thumped his chest and made an exaggerated safe sign as he crossed the plate, prompting more jeers.
”I’m sure that was an emotional moment for him,” Rays manager Joe Maddon said. ”The booing probably promoted the reaction that he had. I’m going to talk to him about that tomorrow. I’m certain you’re not going to see that again.”
Janssen said he hadn’t noticed Escobar’s gesture, and said he wasn’t bothered by it.
”I don’t think it was directed at me,” Janssen said. ”We were good teammates, I had no problem with him. He had no problem with me. I did hear the chorus of boos and I’m sure he was a little frustrated at times. He’s an emotional guy, he’s a prideful guy. It was his moment to shine and he did his thing.
Desmond Jennings followed with a single and Matt Joyce walked, bringing the potential go-ahead run to the plate, but Janssen struck out Ben Zobrist on three pitches to end it.
Encarnacion doubled in the seventh after Josh Lueke (0-1) walked the bases loaded around a sacrifice and a flyout. Encarnacion’s hit off the left-field wall ricocheted past outfielder Sam Fuld, allowing all three runners to score.
Munenori Kawasaki hit a two-out RBI triple off Kyle Farnsworth in the eighth.
Making his Rays debut and just his third major league start, right-hander Jake Odorizzi allowed three runs and five hits in five innings. He walked one, struck out a career-high six and retired 10 of his final 11 batters.
”Starting off I just couldn’t get in a groove,” Odorizzi said. ”Once I did, it felt good.”
Henry Blanco hit a one-out double in the second and was called safe by C.B. Bucknor even though replays appeared to show he was tagged out by second baseman Ben Zobrist. One out later, Melky Cabrera hit an RBI double to right.
”If Zobrist is going to argue, I have to believe that Zobrist is right,” Maddon said. ”If Ben Zobrist argues, my God, I’m going every time.”
Rays third baseman Evan Longoria went 2 for 4 with two RBIs and extended his hitting streak to 14 games.
NOTES: Dickey started with an extra day of rest after Sunday’s game at Yankee Stadium was rained out. … Toronto recalled OF Anthony Gose from Buffalo and optioned RHP Mickey Storey to Triple-A. Gose came in as a defensive replacement for Cabrera in the eighth. … Odorizzi started for the Rays in place of LHP David Price, who is on the 15-day DL with a strained left triceps. … Odorizzi is the 17th starter used by the Rays since the beginning of the 2008 season, the fewest in the majors. San Francisco has used the next fewest, at 20. … Toronto is 14-0 when scoring five or more runs.