The Tampa Bay Rays celebrated a win and suffered lost another player on Monday night.
Cesar Ramos got his first career victory after replacing the injured Jeff Niemann, and Ben Zobrist homered as the Rays beat the Toronto Blue Jays 7-1.
The celebration was muted by news that Niemann is expected to miss four to six weeks after fracturing his right leg, forcing the Rays to find another replacement for an already injury-filled lineup.
“It's tough, a lot of adversity right now,” Zobrist said. “We're just trying to keep nine bodies on the field.”
Before the game, the Rays put outfielder Desmond Jennings (left knee) on the 15-day disabled list. Once Niemann joins him, the Rays will have eight players sidelined with injuries, a list that also includes slugging third baseman Evan Longoria (torn left hamstring), closer Kyle Farnsworth (right elbow), catcher Robinson Chirinos (concussion) and outfielder Sam Fuld (right wrist).
“We've been bitten a little bit to this point,” Rays manager Joe Maddon said. “We're constantly having our depth tested.”
Luke Scott and Sean Rodriguez each had two RBIs for the Rays, who have won two straight after losing six of their previous seven.
Maddon said the Rays will call up a reliever Tuesday to help out until Niemann's spot in the rotation comes up again, adding that he'd prefer not to move Wade Davis back to the rotation.
Tampa Bay was forced to go to its bullpen early Monday, with Niemann knocked out after just one inning. He was injured when he was struck on the lower leg by Adam Lind's grounder in the first. The right-hander recovered to make the out, but walked gingerly around the mound and was checked by the trainer before finishing the inning.
“It's a tough break, literally,” Maddon said. “The ball was not hit that sharply so I thought it just be like a stinger and he'd be able to walk it off.”
Niemann warmed up for the second but was unable to continue, with the left-handed Ramos brought on to replace him after a mound conference involving Maddon and the trainer.
“(Niemann) just did not have a good look about him at all,” Maddon said.
Ramos (1-0) allowed one run and two hits in three innings, walked three and struck out three, to win for the first time in 80 career appearances.
“I saw them gathering the cans of beer in order to celebrate it properly,” Maddon said.
Davis pitched two innings, J.P Howell and Burke Badenhop each worked one inning and Jake McGee finished in the ninth.
Tampa Bay broke it open with a six-run fifth, taking advantage of an error by Lind to score five unearned runs off Blue Jays right-hander Brandon Morrow (4-2), who came in having won his past four starts and didn't allow a hit through the first four innings.
Will Rhymes led off with a double, took third on a fly out by Chris Gimenez and scored on Elliot Johnson's single. Zobrist grounded into a fielder's choice and B.J. Upton walked before Matt Joyce reached when a diving Lind couldn't handle Joyce's hard grounder, allowing Zobrist to score from second. Carlos Pena reached on a dropped third strike, loading the bases for Scott, who lined a two-run single to left. Rodriguez capped it with a two-run double to right-center.
“On a night when you're down a little bit offensively, that's where the pitching and defense has got to pick some things up,” Blue Jays manager John Farrell said. “That wasn't the case tonight.”
Lind's error in the fifth was his second of the night: he also dropped Upton's foul pop up in the first.
Toronto's struggling first baseman, who came in batting .189, was bumped back to the cleanup spot after being dropped to eighth last week because he came in 13 for 28 with three homers in his career against Niemann.
Zobrist led off the ninth with a first-pitch homer to right, his sixth.
Kelly Johnson drove in Toronto's only run with a two-out single off Ramos in the second.
Notes: Toronto has lost six of nine following a season-long four-game winning streak. ... The Rays recalled C/OF Stephen Vogt from Triple-A Durham to replace Jennings, whose DL stint is retroactive to May 12. “(Jennings) is not getting worse, he's just not getting better,” Maddon said. ... Toronto optioned RH Joel Carreno to Double-A New Hampshire and recalled LH Evan Crawford from Triple-A Las Vegas. ... Blue Jays RH Sergio Santos (right shoulder) is throwing from 90 feet on flat ground at the team's Florida facility. Santos, out since April 21, will progress to 150 feet before he resumes throwing off the mound. ... The Rays signed 1B Ryan Garko to a minor league contract. Garko, who had been playing in the independent Atlantic League, will report to Double-A Montgomery. He last played in the majors with Texas in 2010.
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