"The first three innings I kept spiking my fastball again and it got me
in a little trouble," said Drabek, who has allowed two runs or less in
seven of his nine starts this year. "I think the fourth, fifth, and
sixth [innings], those walks I had no problem with but those early walks
tend to get to me.
"Just with the two-seamer, aiming for a low strike, but I throw it too
low and then it hits the dirt and J.P. [Arencibia] and Jeff [Mathis]
have to wear it."
Drabek's lack of command is turning into an ongoing storyline during
the month of May. He has now walked 19 batters in his past 22 1/3
innings and most of the issues can be tied back to his two-seam
The 24-year-old aims low with the pitch only to see it dip well below
the strike zone and often into the dirt. He was able to rectify that
during his last start against the Yankees by aiming high and letting
the ball drop into the zone, which is something the club opted to do
again on Monday.
The altered plan of attack helped lead to a strong finish, but Drabek
also believes part of his struggles early in games can be related to
coming out with too much intensity.
"The effort level I had in it in the last three innings was 100 percent rather
than 110 early on," said Drabek, who threw a career high 118 pitches.
"Which has been something that I've been trying to fix a little bit is
the first few innings I come up there and 110 effort level, when in the
bullpen I'm 100 percent and everything is doing exactly what I want it to."
Drabek's night got off to a rough start in the first inning when B.J.
Upton lifted a ball to center field. Colby Rasmus raced back to where
he thought the deep fly was headed but when he turned around the ball
was nowhere to be seen.
A split second later, Rasmus saw the ball drop well short of where he
originally thought it would land. The play was originally ruled a
double, but upon a video review, it was changed to a solo home run
because the umpires said it hit the B-ring catwalk.
Drabek surrendered another run in the third on an RBI single by Sean
Rodriguez and appeared headed for a short night on the mound. The
native of Texas had thrown 75 pitches through those three innings, but
managed to settle down from that point on and go relatively deep into
That enabled Drabek to become the first American League pitcher to walk
at least six batters, throw at least three wild pitches and still earn
a victory since Juan Guzman did it with Texas on July 15, 1994.
"We definitely self-inflicted," Rays manager Joe Maddon said of Drabek,
who allowed just the two runs on three hits. "Drabek really threw a lot
of pitches, he did not want to throw the ball over the plate and he
tested our patience. We had opportunities, we just couldn't get the
appropriate hit against him."
Toronto opened the scoring in the second inning off right-hander Jeremy
Hellickson. J.P. Arencibia reached base on a fielder's choice and then
advanced to second on an error where he would later come around to
score on an RBI single by Eric Thames.
Rasmus sparked another rally in the following inning with a leadoff
double. Hellickson would later surrender a sacrifice fly to Kelly
Johnson, which temporarily put the Blue Jays in front 2-1.
The big blow didn't occur until the sixth inning when Escobar hit a
one-out homer. Escobar's second of the year came on the first pitch and
went over the wall in left-center field. Hellickson surrendered five runs -- two earned -- on eight hits with one walk and three strikeouts.
Toronto broke the game open in the eighth, scoring three additional
runs. A throwing error by Rodriguez allowed the first two runs to cross
the plate, while a botched double play attempt by Tampa Bay enabled the
final Blue Jays' tally of the game.
"There were timely hits," Blue Jays manager John Farrell said. "Yunel's
home run was a big one. Colby swung the bat exceptionally well tonight,
he squared three balls up. It's good to see him start to pick up and
maybe build on yesterday's game against the Mets and into tonight."