Gibbons pairs Blanco with Buehrle for opener

Gibbons pairs Blanco with Buehrle for opener

ST. PETERSBURG -- Veteran catcher Henry Blanco got a rare start over J.P. Arencibia for Monday night's game against the Rays.

Blue Jays manager John Gibbons opted to give Blanco a shot behind the plate in an attempt to reverse left-hander Mark Buehrle's slow start to the year. It marked the first time this season that Blanco caught another starter besides knuckleballer R.A. Dickey.

The move didn't exactly pay off, as Buehrle surrendered seven runs on nine hits in six innings of work. His ERA in seven starts this year now sits at 7.02.

"It's frustrating. I don't know, I can't pinpoint, baseball gods got something on me, but it seems like I can't catch breaks," Buehrle said. "Make a good pitch, they're hitting it. Make a bad pitch, and they're crushing it.

"I can't pinpoint one thing or the other on what it is. I'm going to go out there and keep working, not going to give up, going to keep on battling and try to get us a win."

Arencibia's absence in favor of the light-hitting Blanco created a major void in Toronto's batting order, but it wasn't long before the Blue Jays' starting catcher got his chance. Arencibia entered as a pinch-hitter in the sixth inning and later would become the hero in a game he didn't even start.

The native of Miami came up with a runner on third and two outs in the ninth and promptly hit a two-run homer to cap a seven-run comeback win. The day might not have started off the way he wanted it to, but the ending couldn't have been any more perfect.

"To help the team win is my biggest thing, and to hit something that gives us the lead is always huge," Arencibia said. "I think they're all pretty big in that case, if it's a walk, if it's a single, whatever it may be. But definitely to take the lead, it's big. I was excited to have that opportunity, and it worked out for us."

Arencibia currently leads all American League catchers with nine home runs this season. Five of those nine homers have been of the go-ahead variety, and he's tied for top overall honors on the club with cleanup hitter Edwin Encarnacion.

Gregor Chisholm is a reporter for Read his blog, North of the Border, and follow him on Twitter @gregorMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.