Blue Jays 3, Rays 1
With every ball that Jose Bautista launches far over the wall,
the Toronto Blue Jays are more certain he’s back to form.
Bautista hit his fifth home run of the spring, a long solo shot
that helped the Blue Jays beat the Tampa Bay Rays 3-1 Thursday.
Bautista, a two-time home run champion, had season-ending
surgery on his left wrist last Sept. 4. He finished the year with
27 homers and 65 RBIs while batting .241.
His drive to deep left-center field was another reassuring sign
for his team.
”He’s healthy. We’ve felt good about him the last three
weeks,” Toronto manager John Gibbons said. ”He’s gotten past that
and shown no signs of anything being wrong.”
Roberto Hernandez is feeling better himself, too.
The Tampa Bay pitcher threw six innings, allowing one run on
three hits while striking out two and walking no one. He also got
Bautista to ground into a double play in the first. The only
blemish was a home run by Colby Rasmus.
”Everything was working,” Rays manager Joe Maddon said. ”His
fastball really had good dive to it. Nice changeup, His slider. All
By now, most are somewhat familiar with the Hernandez story. He
is probably still best known as Fausto Carmona. It was under that
name that in 2007, at age 26, he went 19-8, finished fourth in the
AL Cy Young Award voting and helped the Indians get within a game
of World Series.
A big contract followed, but Hernandez was never able to
replicate the success he enjoyed that season. His heavy sinking
fastball didn’t sink enough, and he couldn’t locate the rest of his
The 32-year-old Hernandez was later arrested in the Dominican
Republic on false identity charges. The charges were dropped after
he completed a work program, and Major League Baseball suspended
him for three weeks.
Hernandez sprained his right ankle last August and missed the
rest of the year. He has pitched seven years in the majors, all
with Cleveland. He was 0-3 with a 7.53 ERA last season.
The Rays, remembering the 19-8 arm and not the struggles that
followed, signed him in the offseason. He is competing for the
fifth spot in the rotation.
”Every game is very important for me,” he said. ”Whenever I
have the opportunity to go the mound, every pitch is important.
Today, I think I did great. I tried to keep the ball down and get
Eugenio Velez also homered for Toronto. The Rays’ only run came
in the sixth inning on an infield single from James Loney.
Four Blue Jays pitchers, led by starter Claudio Vargas, combined
to allow only six hits and struck out nine.
NOTES: Rays LHP Matt Moore threw 60 pitches in a simulated game.
Moore needed the work after missing his start as a result of
Wednesday’s rainout. … Evan Longoria hit his team-leading sixth
double for the Rays. … Tampa Bay’s Desmond Jennings stole third
base standing up for his sixth spring training theft.