Apr 2, 2014; St. Petersburg, FL, USA; Toronto Blue Jays starting pitcher Mark Buehrle (56) throws a pitch during the first inning against the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports
What’s that about starting pitching?
Mark Buehrle struck out eleven in a near complete game shutout as the Toronto Blue Jays beat the Tampa Bay Rays 3-0 on Wednesday night at Tropicana Field. It was the second consecutive scoreless start for the Blue Jays rotation after Drew Hutchison tossed 5.1 innings yesterday without a run crossing the plate.
Buehrle scattered four hits, walked only one batter and was generally outstanding. His eleven strikeouts was a career best for his first start of the season bettering the seven he had against the Detroit Tigers in 2001 (h/t @caRSoN_Stats). The fact he’s on his game so early is great news for Blue Jays fans as Buehrle has historically not been at his best early in the season. They made note on the broadcast that he changed his off-season routine to be ready for the season and thus far it appears to be paying dividends.
Jose Bautista led the offense and charged into two home runs, one of which nearly hit the roof at the Trop. Bautista also looked great in spring training and after starting the season 1 for 6 mashed both starter Matt Moore and reliever Josh Lueke. Bautista also walked twice.
Brett Lawrie had two spectacular plays on defense but missed on a hard hit liner with two outs in the ninth, which would have preserved a complete game for Buehrle. Evan Longoria also made a highlight play in the first to save a run for the Rays.
Melky Cabrera continued to swing a hot bat and had two base hits. He’s looked great this year so far and if he stays healthy I wouldn’t be shocked to see the Melkman compete for a batting title. Maicer Izturis also had two hits, including a double he roped to left center while Dioner Navarro also chipped in with two hits and an RBI.
Sergio Santos entered the game with two outs in the ninth but couldn’t close the door and walked Longoria. Manager John Gibbons quickly went to lefty Brett Cecil, who answered the call with a strikeout to earn his first save of this season.