Apr 3, 2014; St. Petersburg, FL, USA; Toronto Blue Jays first baseman Adam Lind (26) forces out Tampa Bay Rays third baseman Logan Forsythe (10) during the second inning at Tropicana Field. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports
After two convincing wins in a row, the Toronto Blue Jays and their fans got their hopes up and had their first series at Tropicana Field since 2007 in sight. Unfortunately, the Tampa Bay Rays were unwilling to just hand Toronto the win and sent the Blue Jays home for the 21st consecutive time without a series win in Tampa with a 7-2 loss.
The Blue Jays sent Brandon Morrow to the mound to face off against Chris Archer, but the game took a similar tone to Morrow’s starts a season ago. Morrow got through the first unscathed, but ran into trouble in the second. A double by Matt Joyce followed by a single by Ryan Hanigan to give Tampa the 1-0 lead.
The Rays would strike again in the third, when Morrow apparently left everything he threw over the middle of the plate. A lead-off triple for David DeJesus (thanks to a poor play by Jose Bautista) got the inning started. Desmond Jennings followed with a RBI double and then scored on a single from Ben Zobrist. After a single by Longoria moved Zobrist to third, Morrow induced a double-play ball from James Loney, basically trading the run for the outs, giving Tampa a 4-0 lead after three innings.
The Blue Jays would get a pair back in the top of the fourth, when Jose Bautista walked, went to third on a double by Adam Lind and scored on a ground-out by Dioner Navarro. Lind came steaming around on an infield single by Brett Lawrie to cut the lead to 4-2.
Morrow would coast through his final two innings (minus a balk in the fourth), finishing his night after the fifth. At the end of the night, his line didn’t look great, but could have been a lot worse without some stellar defensive plays behind him by Adam Lind, Maicer Izturis, and Ryan Goins. He finished the night with five innings of work, 7 hits, 4 runs, 1 walk, and 4 strike-outs.
In came Esmil Rogers, who had a solid sixth inning, but the Rays came back in the seventh. After a double and a walk with one-out, Rogers got a ground-out from Ben Zobrist to give the Rays two outs in the inning. However, a hung curve ball to Evan Longoria quickly ended the game for the Blue Jays. The three-run shot took the score to 7-2 and essentially put the game out of reach for Toronto with Tampa’s excellent bullpen.
The Good News:
Big night for Adam Lind. A solid double should have netted him an RBI as well except for a bad base-running play by Jose Bautista. He also made two big scoops at first base that saved errors from both Brett Lawrie and Ryan Goins.
Maicer Izturis with two more hits tonight, showing that you don’t need to be Emilio Bonifacio to swing a good bat this early in the season. If he keeps it up, he could push Ryan Goins to the bench when Jose Reyes returns.
The Bad News:
Morrow looked rusty. His velocity was solid, but he left everything over the heart of the plate and didn’t appear to have much movement on the ball.
Colby Rasmus continues to struggle at the dish, making one wonder why he’s hitting in the two hole. Chris Archer made him look foolish, wringing him up three straight times. That gives Rasmus 6 strike-outs in the first 4 games of the season.
The Blue Jays head home for their home opener in front of a sold out crowd on Friday night. They’ll get a welcome home present too, as a familiar face gets the start for Toronto with Dustin McGowan making his first start since 2011. He’ll face off against the second gift, the Major League debut for New York Yankees pitcher Masahiro Tanaka. That will create an interesting environment for the Rogers Centre tomorrow night.