Blue Jays 2, Rays 0
Shutout losses are becoming a troubling trend for the Tampa Bay
Carlos Villanueva pitched six sharp innings and the Toronto Blue
Jays beat slumping Tampa Bay 2-0 on Thursday night, snapping a
five-game losing streak against the Rays.
Tampa Bay lost for the fifth time in six games and dropped 1 1/2
games behind Baltimore for the second AL wild-card berth. The Rays
have been blanked twice in the past three games, and six of their
nine shutout losses this season have come in the past 25 games.
”We’ve played that story way too often and we’ve got to get by
it somehow,” manager Joe Maddon said.
Tampa Bay, beaten 1-0 at Texas on Tuesday, has lost a major
league-worst 10 times when allowing two runs or less.
”There’s not a whole lot to say about it,” outfielder Sam Fuld
said. ”You just try to bounce back.”
Kelly Johnson hit a two-run double in the first inning and
Toronto won consecutive games for the first time since Aug. 12-13,
improving to 3-9 against the Rays this season.
Pitching despite an illness, Villanueva (7-4) allowed five hits
– all singles – to win for the first time since July 27 against
Detroit. The right-hander had gone 0-4 in five starts since,
despite never allowing more than four earned runs. He walked one
and struck out seven, including six straight during one stretch to
tie a club record.
”Carlos was fighting a low-grade fever all afternoon and
through the six innings he pitched tonight,” Blue Jays manager
John Farrell said. ”But he was outstanding again.”
It was the first win in five career appearances against Tampa
Bay for Villanueva, who entered 0-1 with a 9.00 ERA against the
Rays. He said the illness forced him to work slowly and conserve as
much energy as possible.
”It’s just satisfying to beat Tampa,” Villanueva said.
”They’ve given me a lot of trouble since I came to the East last
Fuld praised Villanueva’s command and his assortment of
”His changeup is really good and the slider I saw from him came
out of his hand like a fastball,” Fuld said. ”That’s the
definition of good off-speed stuff, the stuff that looks like a
fastball out of the hand, and that was certainly the case
Darren Oliver and Brad Lincoln each worked one inning and Casey
Janssen finished for his 18th save in 21 chances.
The hard-luck loser was Rays rookie left-hander Matt Moore, who
allowed two runs and six hits in six innings. Moore walked three,
two in the decisive first inning, and struck out seven. The loss
was his first since July 22 against Seattle.
Moore (10-8) got two quick outs in the first but couldn’t wrap
things up. Edwin Encarnacion walked, Adam Lind singled and Yunel
Escobar walked to load the bases for Johnson, who doubled into the
”Moore has got a good fastball and I was just looking for the
first one I could handle,” Johnson said.
One strike from retiring Encarnacion, Moore said he regretted
not going after the Toronto slugger.
”I quit what I was doing the first two hitters,” Moore said.
”I don’t know what it was, it just felt like I was getting a
little giddy, kind of jumping at the glove a little bit.”
Maddon acknowledged that Moore ”wasn’t really sharp” but
refused to pin the blame on him.
”I can’t really get on a young pitcher who gives up two runs in
six innings,” Maddon said. ”When you don’t score any runs you
can’t cover any mistakes.”
Evan Longoria and Matt Joyce opened the second with back-to-back
singles and moved up on Jeff Keppinger’s sacrifice, but the Rays
couldn’t score. Luke Scott fouled out and Jose Lobaton was caught
looking to end the inning.
Lobaton’s strikeout was the first of six straight by Villanueva,
the fourth Toronto pitcher to achieve the feat and second this
month: J.A. Happ fanned six straight against Texas on Aug. 17.
The Rays put runners at first and second with one out in the
fifth, but No. 9 hitter Sam Fuld flied out and left fielder Rajai
Davis caught Desmond Jennings’ sinking liner to keep Tampa Bay
”We should have been able to score more than two runs
tonight,” Maddon said. ”We just got shut down.”
Rays slugger Carlos Pena, 0 for 17 with 10 strikeouts since his
last base hit, was held out of the starting lineup. Scott started
at first base and Joyce was the designated hitter.
NOTES: Blue Jays OF Jose Bautista (left wrist) will undergo
season-ending surgery Sept. 4. He’s expected to be ready in time
for spring training 2013. … Scott went 0 for 3, ending his
hitting streak at a season-high 10 games. … Maddon said Longoria
will start at DH on Friday. … Rays LHP David Price was delayed
arriving in Toronto because he left his passport at home in Tampa,
Fla. Price arranged for a friend to fly the passport from Florida
to Texas, then he and the friend flew to Canada. … Blue Jays RHP
Jason Frasor (forearm) struck out two in a scoreless inning for
Class-A Dunedin. He’s expected to rejoin the team Saturday when
rosters expand. … Ted Lilly and Marc Rzepczynski are the other
Blue Jays pitchers to record six straight strikeouts. … Former
Blue Jays OF Frank Catalanotto threw out the first pitch.