Rays' James Shields sharp in win over Blue Jays
Rays' Evan Longoria drives in run in return to lineup
J.A Happ was outpitched by James Shields in his return to Toronto's starting rotation.
Shields threw eight strong innings, Evan Longoria drove in a run in his return from an injury, and the Tampa Bay Rays beat the Blue Jays 4-1 on Tuesday night.
Happ (0-1), making his first start with the Blue Jays, gave up four runs and seven hits in 4 1/3 innings. He had made four relief appearances since being acquired from Houston on July 20.
Longoria contributes in return
Evan Longoria doesn't see himself as the saviour for Tampa Bay's struggling offence.
The three-time all-star rejoined the Rays lineup on Tuesday night after missing 85 games because of a partially torn left hamstring.
"I'm really happy to be back and hopefully I'm able to change the complexion of the lineup, maybe not go out and hit two home runs a night, but maybe allow some other guys to see some better pitches and allow them an opportunity to get going," Longoria said before going 1-for-3 with a run batted in as Tampa Bay’s designated hitter in its 4-1 win over Toronto in the opener of a three-game series.
"Hopefully I can provide some kind of spark and get the offence going, but I try not to put all the weight on my shoulders."
Longoria was hurt on April 30 against Seattle when he slid into second on a stolen base attempt.
"When a guy like Longo comes back, people are going to heap all these unnecessary, unreachable expectations," Tampa Bay manager Joe Maddon said. "Just go out and play your game, be yourself. If he's able to do that, I'm very pleased.
Tampa Bay started the season 15-8, and then went 41-44 in Longoria’s absence.
— The Associated Press
"The result is the only thing that matters, but I did feel better than, probably, the numbers indicate," Happ said. "I felt like I was making some good pitches. They used the whole field and they were falling for them, and weren't falling for us. A frustrating one for sure."
Happ's previous start, while with the Astros, came on July 16. The left-hander threw 6 1/3 innings in a 2-0 win over San Diego.
"I got upwards of 80 pitches in, and hopefully we'll keep moving from there," Happ said.
Happ had five strikeouts and one walk.
"They didn't square up too many balls," Blue Jays manager John Farrell said. "First time out, we're not going to jump to any conclusions or judgments, certainly. This is an established major league pitcher."
Blue Jays rookie Chad Jenkins, who had his contract purchased from AA New Hampshire on Sunday, worked three shutout innings in his major league debut.
"He came in and threw the ball over the plate," Farrell said. "Had good sink to his fastballs. Showed a good slider as well. And didn't show any fear of contact. It was encouraging to see that kind of aggressiveness out of him."
Colby Rasmus hit his 20th homer, a solo shot in the fourth, that got Toronto within 3-1. Rasmus, who had missed the previous two games because of tightness in his right groin, singled in the ninth.
Shields (10-7) allowed one run and two hits. The right-hander was coming off a three-hit shutout last Tuesday at Oakland.
"Shields really held us down," Farrell said.
Fernando Rodney pitched the ninth for his 33rd save and completed the three-hitter.
Evan Longoria got a standing ovation before his first at-bat in the second, when Happ reached behind his legs to glove a grounder and then threw out the three-time All-Star.
Longoria made it 2-0 on a bases-loaded sacrifice fly in the third, an opposite-field drive caught at the wall by right fielder Moises Sierra. Jeff Keppinger extended the lead to 3-0 on another sacrifice fly later in the inning.
The Rays stopped a 22-inning scoreless stretch and took a 1-0 lead in the second as Ryan Roberts hit a two-out pop fly double down the right-field line and scored on Sean Rodriguez's single.
Tampa Bay went ahead 4-1 in the fifth on Ben Zobrist's RBI double.