By Gregor Chisholm and Jeff Odom
MLB.com |@gregorMLB |
ST. PETERSBURG -- The regular season is only a week old and there's plenty of time for things to change, but as of right now the Rays and Blue Jays appear to be moving in opposite directions.
Steven Souza Jr. hit a three-run homer and Jake Odorizzi tossed six strong innings as the Rays improved to three games above .500 with a 7-2 victory over the Blue Jays on Sunday afternoon at Tropicana Field. Toronto was dealt its fifth loss in six games, which matches the worst start in franchise history.
Souza's three-run shot in the third inning was the difference-maker, but Tampa Bay also received home runs from Corey Dickerson and Jesus Sucre. Odorizzi picked up the victory after allowing just two runs on two hits while striking out four.
"Look, there are some teams that are built to win that can have a guy or two carry them. We're not built that way," said Rays manager Kevin Cash, whose club is off to the best start in its 20-season history. "We need all 25 to come into our winning performances, and that's exactly what we're seeing, basically over the entire homestand."
Right-hander Marco Estrada took the loss for Toronto after he allowed all three of the Rays' home runs. He was charged with five runs on seven hits and two walks while throwing 64 of his 99 pitches for strikes. One of the lone bright spots for the Blue Jays was Josh Donaldson's solo home run in the first inning, but that was eventually overshadowed when Donaldson left in the sixth with tightness in his right calf.
"I was having trouble reaching and finishing changeups," Estrada said. "I was looking OK with the fastball, so I'm pretty happy about that. It's just one of those days I couldn't really follow through with my changeup, and I got hurt today."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED Souza smokes homer: Tampa Bay was trailing, 2-1, in the bottom of the third inning until Souza unloaded on a poorly located changeup from Estrada for a three-run shot. According to Statcast™, Souza's first homer of the season traveled 362 feet and left his bat at 102 mph, with a launch angle of 42 degrees. Estrada's changeup is normally his bread-and-butter pitch, but he had trouble locating it vs. the Rays and all three Tampa Bay homers came off that selection.
Dugouts empty: Souza's fireworks were not restricted to his bat Sunday. During the second inning, Toronto shortstop Troy Tulowitzki took exception to Souza's late and high slide into second base as he attempted to break up a double play. The two exchanged words and the dugouts quickly emptied with players from both sides spilling out onto the field. Cooler heads eventually prevailed and no one was ejected.
"I definitely respect the game," Tulowitzki said. "I think it was a little late and I figured I should say something. Not so much for myself, but for other guys maybe in the future -- try to save injuries. I just felt it was a little late."
"Everybody thought it was a little bit late. That's over. It's no big deal." --Blue Jays manager John Gibbons, on Souza's slide
"I didn't even know that I got ejected until Daniel Robertson told me. I said something in the dugout, I went to go to the water fountain and turned around and Cash was out there. Didn't even know it. Not really how I pictured my first ejection. I wish I would have gotten my money's worth." --Rays center fielder Kevin Kiermaier, on being ejected for the first time in his five-year Major League career for arguing a called third strike in the seventh
SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS
The Blue Jays' 1-5 record matches the club's worst start through six games. Toronto also started the 2004 season with a 1-5 record, and eventually finished 71-90.
DONALDSON GOES DOWN
Donaldson sustained his injury in the top of the sixth inning while attempting to beat out a grounder. He was called out on the play and then slowly limped off the field before retreating into the Blue Jays' clubhouse. Ryan Goins replaced him at third base in the bottom half of the inning. It's a similar injury to the one Donaldson had during Spring Training, just in a slightly different spot, but he said he does not expect it become a long-term issue.
"This was on the outside part of my calf," Donaldson said. "It sort of just started responding to some treatment and stuff that we were doing after. Everything checked out to be in good shape and day to day is what they're telling me."
Kiermaier's ejection came after a short argument with home-plate umpire Mike Muchlinski. Kiermaier, who admitted afterward he was frustrated with the low strike zone, turned and exchanged words with Muchlinski and was tossed after shouting something from inside the dugout. Peter Bourjos came off the bench to replace the two-time Gold Glove winner in the field in the top of the eighth.
Blue Jays: Toronto will get a day off Monday in advance of Tuesday's home opener vs. the Brewers. Closer Roberto Osuna is expected to be activated from the 10-day disabled list prior to the game, and despite his lack of work this spring, Blue Jays manager John Gibbons said he would not hesitate to use him in a save situation. Left-hander J.A. Happ will get the start for Toronto after he allowed three runs over seven innings during his previous outing vs. Baltimore. First pitch is scheduled for 7:07 p.m. ET.
Rays: Alex Cobb will make his second start of the season as Tampa Bay begins a seven-game road trip, starting with a three-game series against the Yankees. Cobb is slated to start the series opener, at 1:05 p.m. Monday at Yankee Stadium. The right-hander was sharp in his debut on Wednesday against New York, allowing just one run on four hits with four strikeouts in 5 2/3 innings.