Rays, Blue Jays battle it out in rubber match

MLB

The Tampa Bay Rays got back into the win column on Saturday night with a 5-3 victory over the Toronto Blue Jays. With the win, they regained a bit of momentum heading into Sunday’s rubber game of their three-game series with the Blue Jays in Tampa.

The Rays have won six of their last eight games.

The Blue Jays’ erratic season continues as the loss drops them to a 9-11 record.

While the headline from Saturday’s win by the Rays was Manuel Margot reaching on an error that brought in the game’s go-ahead run in the eighth inning, it was the performance of the bullpen that made it possible.

The Rays got eight innings of scoreless relief from Ryan Yarbrough, Ryan Thompson and Andrew Kittredge, who came on in the ninth inning for his first save of the season.

“We need all those guys to be able to be versatile right now while we’re nicked up. They seem to appreciate whenever they get the ball in their hands,” Rays manager Kevin Cash said afterward.

“We appreciate them — whether it is Kit, Thompson, Diego (Castillo) — to have as much versatility with these guys as possible can really help us.”

To take the series, the Rays will turn to Luis Patino, who is making his first start of the season. Patino debuted last year with San Diego and went 1-0 with a 5.19 ERA in 11 appearances (one start). He will face Hyun Jin Ryu (1-2, 3.00 ERA) as the 34-year-old southpaw is looking to bounce back from a rough performance.

In his last start, Ryu gave up four runs and eight hits over five innings in a 4-2 loss at the Boston Red Sox on April 20. He has two career starts vs. the Rays and is 0-0 with a 3.72 ERA.

Despite the loss on Saturday, for a third straight game the Toronto Blue Jays got good production from their starting pitching. Robbie Ray gave up three runs on six hits in six innings, striking out nine.

There is the sense that things are coming together for the Blue Jays, even if the process is painfully slow. While Toronto has found it difficult this year to get runners on base, over the past week they’ve seen a slight uptick in runs.

Plus, the Blue Jays are inching closer to the return of outfielder George Springer, who suffered two muscle strains in spring training.

“We’re coming along very well. Everybody is getting there,” Blue Jays outfielder Lourdes Gurriel said, per MLB.com. “Of course, we’re all waiting for George. We’re very anxious to have him in the lineup. We all know he is going to help us a lot.”

–Field Level Media

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