London News & Search
Nick Tepesch was about as overpowering as a snowflake on Monday night. But he still managed to largely freeze out the Tampa Bay Rays to gain his first win of the season.
After two straight losses to start his career with the Blue Jays, the 28-year-old picked up his first victory of the season by throwing six-plus innings against the Rays at the Rogers Centre, limiting the Rays to only four hits as the Jays beat Tampa Bay 2-1. The right-handed starter gave up one run, a solo home run by Tampa catcher Wilson Ramos in the second. He walked three and struck out none, becoming the first Jays starter to earn the win with six-plus innings and zero strikeouts since R.A. Dickey on May 4, 2015. The Rays hit him hard at times, but the Jays outfielders were able to corral everything.
“I just felt I made some better pitches at critical times,” said Tepesch, when asked the difference between Monday’s start and his rough outing against the Yankees on Aug. 9.
“His command was a little bit better, he stayed on the attack, we got some breaks, we ran some balls down, but he hung in there,” said Toronto manager John Gibbons on his starter. “We had a depleted bullpen tonight and he gave us just what we needed.”
Toronto’s offence came from a familiar source. Josh Donaldson homered in the first inning with none out and Jose Bautista on first. His shot just made it over the right-field wall. It was his 17th of the season and eighth over his last 16 games. He is hitting .333 with 18 RBIs and a 1.258 OPS over that time. His first inning home run off Tampa starter Jake Odorizzi, who threw six innings and only gave up three hits, was all the offence Toronto needed.
“I pretty much saw all his pitches in that one at-bat and I felt like I was on some pitches there and I was able to battle and hit at the pitch out over the plate and was able to barrel it and it was barely able to get out over the fence,” said Donaldson. “(But) I’ll take it. I just feel like I’m having pretty solid at-bats (lately) and whenever I’m getting my pitches I’m putting a good swing on it.”
Monday’s win was only the third time this season the Jays won with two runs or less, two of which have come against the Rays.
“I feel like we’ve been on the wrong side of those a lot this year, especially against Tampa,” said Donaldson of the one-run victory. “They always somehow figure it out against us. But we did a pretty good job playing defence and we pitched extremely well today.”
Jays left-handed reliever Aaron Loup, who took over for Tepesch with two on base and none out in the seventh, did Yeoman’s work to get the Rays out in order in the same inning. Loup then struck out two left-handed batters in the eighth (Logan Morrison and Brad Miller) and walked Steven Souza Jr. before being pulled for Roberto Osuna, who hadn’t pitched since Aug.10. Osuna ended the inning by getting Ramos to ground out to short. The Jays closer then got out the side in the ninth. Loup has stranded 25 of 29 inherited runners this year (86.2%, sixth highest among MLB relievers).
“They don’t have that glorified role, it’s usually that set-up man and the ninth inning guy who get most of the recognition but you can’t survive without guys pitching well in those middle innings, and Loupy’s done that,” said Gibbons. “Loupy’s had a nice bounce back year. Their lineup set up pretty good for us with the number of lefties they had in there. But he got them out too. Sometimes he struggled against lefties this year. Tonight he got them, which was the key to the game.”
Tepesch was pulled after hitting Peter Bourjos to start the seventh and then walking Robertson, and replaced by Loup. The next batter, Dickerson, hit a grounder to second baseman Rob Refsnyder who threw it to Goins at second base, where Bourjos was standing. Robertson made his way to second base on the same play and was tagged by Goins. That’s when the confusion began. Nobody was sure who was safe and who was out until the umpires consulted with the MLB office in New York. When the smoke cleared. Robertson was declared out on a fielder’s choice, leaving Bourjos at second and Dickerson at first. Loup then struck out Lucas Duda and got Evan Longoria to hit into a pop fly to second. Donaldson led off the eighth with a ground-rule double to left off reliever Brad Boxberger but was unable to score.
London News & Search