ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — Toronto is settling down into a more normal one-game-a-day schedule, and the Blue Jays hope that helps them return to their winning ways.
Playing a fourth game in three cities in three days, Toronto lost 6-2 to the Rays on Friday, but the Blue Jays will have a more traditional rest for Saturday’s second game of the series. A rain delay and an 11-inning, five-hour game as part of a doubleheader Thursday night meant Toronto didn’t arrive in St. Petersburg until nearly 4 a.m. Friday.
“Some guys were playing 18 innings, then you travel all night,” Toronto manager John Gibbons said. “It’s tough to complain about anything in this job, but there’s one thing you can complain about.”
The Blue Jays lost three of their last four games, dropping their record to 18-15.
The Rays (14-16) will try to keep them out of their element Saturday, starting right-hander Jake Faria, who is coming off a dominating start. He threw eight innings of three-hit, shutout baseball in a win against Detroit on Monday. He struck out six and walked only one, lowering his season ERA to 4.60 and improving to 2-1.
Faria hasn’t faced Toronto this season, but went 1-1 last year as a rookie with a 3.09 ERA. He faced the Jays in his second major-league start, holding them to one run on six hits in 6 1/3 innings, but gave up three runs in 5 1/3 innings in an August meeting.
Toronto will turn to right-hander Aaron Sanchez, who is 2-2 with a 4.06 ERA on the season, but has owned the Rays. He is just 1-1 but has a 1.24 ERA — that’s five earned runs in 36 1/3 innings – in 13 career games, including five starts, against Tampa Bay.
He is trying to get back to his 2016 form, when he went 15-2 with a 3.00 ERA. Sanchez has lasted exactly six innings in each of his last three starts, giving up a grand total of nine earned runs.
Tampa Bay is still hitting well. The Rays’ .262 team batting average is third-best in baseball, but expect more of the long ball on Saturday, just because the Jays are involved. They have hit a major league-high 48 this season, but they have also allowed 43.
Toronto still managed two home runs in Friday’s 6-2 loss to open the series.
The Rays had dropped three of four before Friday’s big win. Rookie Ryan Yarbrough threw five innings of scoreless, one-hit relief, which should leave the bullpen in pretty good shape for Saturday.
“It takes young players a while to trust what they accomplish in (the minors) and then put it in place in the big leagues,” Rays manager Kevin Cash said. “For what a lot of our young pitchers have done this year, I think they’re learning and they’re adjusting on the fly.”
On a bullpen day for Tampa Bay, Toronto was held to four hits total on Friday — this a day after Yangervis Solarte had eight hits in a doubleheader split with Cleveland.