Blue Jays’ Montoyo gets the last laugh against the Rays

TORONTO — Charlie Montoyo faced Blake Snell for the first time in his career and while he couldn’t do anything to break Snell’s momentum in the season, the manager saw the Toronto Blue Jays with good signals on both sides of the ball. 

After allowing five runs in the Opening Day, Snell entered the game totalling 24 strikeouts in his last two starts with a 0.69 ERA over 13 innings. These numbers were even better against the Blue Jays (5-10) once the left-handed pitcher allowed just one hit while totalling nine strikeouts in six innings played. 

“He’s (Snell) one of the best pitchers in baseball, that’s just it. I could give him all kinds of compliments but he’s just one of the best pitchers in baseball. He’s got all the pitches, good fastball, good curveball, good changeup. He’s very good,” said Montoyo. 

One day after allowing five home runs and 11 runs against the Tampa Bay Rays (11-4), the Blue Jays bounced back allowing one run on Saturday afternoon at the Rogers Centre to clinch a 3-1 triumph. 

Toronto was initially led by Clay Buchholz, who made the first start of his 13th season after being sidelined due to a right flexor strain. 

In six innings played, Buchholz allowed six hits and one earned run. 

“I feel good, I feel healthy. I’ve done it a couple of times where you go out with max effort every pitch that you throw. I think the hard times come from that. So I used a little bit of what I grasped last year in Arizona, less is more sometimes, and I felt better throwing the ball to certain sides of the plate and certain quadrants of the zone throwing,” said the pitcher. 

By doing so, Buchholz maintains his career standard against the Rays. He entered the afternoon holding Tampa Bay to a .211 batting average over his career.

“He mixed and matched. He had the hitters off balance. It was fun to watch. Sliders, changeups, in and out, he was very good,” said Montoyo. “There was no room for error because Blake Snell was very good.”

Besides Buchholz, winning pitcher Thomas Pannone (1-2), followed by Joe Biagini, Tim Mayza, and Ken Giles, found a way to limit the Rays to their lowest score since the team went scoreless against the Colorado Rockies on April 3. 

Toronto’s relievers combined for three innings played, two hits, one walk, no runs allowed, and six strikeouts. 

“That’s when you have to give our pitching credit to minimize, and they did. Our bullpen was outstanding. We made some errors but the guys came out of the pen and got the guys and minimize,” said Montoyo when asked about the Blue Jays’ ups and downs on defence. “We made a couple of bad plays but the bullpen saved us.”

On the other side of the ball, despite more struggles by the batters in general, the Blue Jays had an electrifying seventh inning with three hits (two doubles) and two runs scored.  

Down 1-0, Randal Grichuk hit a double off Chaz Roe (0-2), who also conceded a double for Lourdes Gurriel Jr. on the next pitch.

Gurriel Jr. now has driven five runs in the last four games.

The Blue Jays’ third run of the game was batted in by Teoscar Hernández in the eight inning after a single to left with Luke Maile scoring. 

Maile was responsible for Toronto’s first hit of the game, which happened just in the sixth inning. 

“We all know that we’re hitting pretty good right now, the whole team. Yesterday we got almost a comeback win and today we got the comeback win and that gives us a lot of confidence for the next day,” said Hernández. 

The Blue Jays snapped a two-game losing streak with the win and also tied the series against the Rays after two games. The game three happens on Sunday, with Marcus Stroman starting for Toronto, while Charlie Morton will be on the mound for Tampa Bay. 

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