Skip to main content

Toronto Blue Jays pitcher Nick Tepesch pitches against the Tampa Bay Rays in the first inning at the Rogers Centre.John E. Sokolowski

The Tampa Bay Rays arrived in Toronto to play the Blue Jays at Rogers Centre on Monday night, unable to hit or score runs.

And the Blue Jays were sending Nick Tepesch to the mound, who had trouble keeping the ball in the park in his last outing against the New York Yankees.

Something had to give, and in the end, Tepesch was standing tall as the Blue Jays (57-61) left with a 2-1 victory over the Rays (59-61), whose offensive woes continue to haunt them.

Tepesch was gritty in earning his first victory since Sept. 16, 2014, when he was a member of the Texas Rangers, going six-plus innings while holding the Rays to one run off four hits.

The game marked the first of a four-game series against the Rays, one of the teams the Blue Jays have to overtake in the standings if they hope to grab an American League wild-card berth.

Tampa Bay was coming off what was likely their worst offensive homestand in club history, scoring a total of 11 runs through nine games against Milwaukee, Boston and Cleveland.

The Rays were shut out five times during that stretch, the first team to be blanked that many times during a homestand since the 1955 Baltimore Orioles. The Rays went 2-7 after hitting just .170.

As for Tepesch, he had his own demons to deal with after allowing three home runs in his debut last week during an 11-5 loss to the New York Yankees.

Josh Donaldson continued his habit of getting his work done early, going the other way for a home run to right field in the first inning with Jose Bautista on base with a walk to provide Toronto with a 2-0 lead.

For Donaldson, the homer was his eighth over his past 16 games, lifting his total to 17 on the year.

Seven of Donaldson's past 10 home runs have come in Toronto first innings. And 11 of his 17 homers have accounted for Toronto's first runs in games.

Tampa Bay came right back in the second inning to cut the lead to 2-1 on a Wilson Ramos home run, his fourth of the season, to straightaway centre.

But unlike his first outing in Toronto, Tepesch was able to limit the damage – although the Rays hit him hard at times. Both Brad Miller (in the second inning) and Ramos (in the sixth) gave the ball long rides, only to have it tracked down in centre field by Kevin Pillar.

Tepesch was also able to pick his way through a couple of other danger spots, starting in the Tampa Bay fourth when two walks and then a hit batter loaded the bases for the Rays with two out.

But Tepesch extricated himself from that mess nicely, getting Corey Dickerson to fly out deep to right.

More trouble awaited Tepesch in the seventh, when he plunked Peter Bourjos with a pitch and then walked Daniel Robertson.

That was enough for Toronto manager John Gibbons, who called on lefty Aaron Loup to settle things down.

Then things got a bit weird.

Dickerson, the next Rays batter, hit a flare to the right side that was taken on the short hop by Toronto second baseman Rob Refsnyder.

Refsnyder flipped the ball to Ryan Goins to try to tag Bourjos out at second base, but he got back just in time.

Meanwhile, Robertson was steaming into second on the play, where he was met by Goins holding the ball. Goins seemed a bit perplexed by it all. He started tagging both base runners repeatedly.

The initial ruling on the field was that both Bourjos and Robertson were out on the play.

However, after an umpire's review, it was ruled that Dickerson had hit into a fielder's choice and that only Robertson was out at second.

Loup still had some work to do, and he did it, striking out Lucas Duda before getting the dangerous Evan Longoria to line out softly to Refsnyder.

Clinging to their one-run lead in the eighth, Gibbons brought in closer Roberto Osuna with two out, and he retired Ramos on a grounder.

Osuna returned to retire the side in the ninth for his 30th save, his second multi-inning save of the season.

Before the game, the Blue Jays selected the contract of left-handed reliever Tim Mayza from their Triple-A affiliate in Buffalo. In corresponding moves, Toronto optioned reliever Leonel Campos to Buffalo and offered right-hander Taylor Cole his unconditional release.

Interact with The Globe