ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — The Toronto Blue Jays dropped to 10-20 with Saturday’s loss to the Tampa Bay Rays, giving them the worst winning percentage in the majors, but manager John Gibbons remains confident his team can get out of its early season struggles.
“You just deal with it. You come back tomorrow — we’ve got (Joe) Biagini going,” Gibbons said of Sunday’s series finale. “We’ll get a good outing on the mound, but (Rays starter Alex) Cobb has been good against us, too. Probably will be one of those games, too, low scoring.”
The Jays had the low-scoring part covered Saturday, getting a first-inning home run from Ezequiel Carrera and then no runs and only three hits the rest of the way. Gibbons said his team knows runs are hard to come by against the Rays and have to limit their mistakes on the mound as a result.
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“We’ve have a tough time with a lot of these guys and we know that going in,” said Gibbons, who saw Marco Estrada give up a pair of two-run homers among the six hits he allowed Saturday.
Biagini is 0-1 with a 3.38 ERA this season, but his 14 appearances have all been out of the bullpen for a total of 18 2/3 innings. He threw a season-high 41 pitches in his last outing but hasn’t gone longer than two innings in any of his appearances.
Toronto’s bullpen only had to pitch two innings Saturday, so they’ll be relatively well-equipped to handle a larger role in Sunday’s series finale.
Biagini steps in for Mat Latos, who was designated for assignment after his ERA grew to 6.60, complicating the Jays’ disappointing start.
The Rays answer with Cobb, who is 2-2 with a 3.86 ERA in six starts this season, bouncing back nicely from Tommy John surgery iin 2015. Cobb hasn’t faced Toronto this year but is 3-2 for his career with a 3.86 ERA against the Jays.
The Rays had their bats step up Saturday, getting home runs from Logan Morrison and Colby Rasmus as they extended their lead safely enough to rest key arms in the bullpen after getting seven innings from starter Jake Odorizzi.
That’s the kind of win that can set up a pitching staff for the next day, and the kind of offense the Rays hope can spill over and help take the three-game series from Toronto.
“There are a lot of guys making a lot of money at the back end of the bullpen, so it’s tough to score runs at that time of the game,” Morrison said of extending the lead in Saturday’s win. “Having said that, the good teams do.
“More importantly than us adding onto leads is just holding leads. Our starting pitching is great. Our bullpen is coming along, and as a defense we have to make the plays we did.”
The teams wrap up the three-game series Sunday, with the Rays staying home for four games against the Royals and the Blue Jays going home to open a nine-game homestand on Monday against the Cleveland Indians.