Rookie Yarbrough sparkles, helps Rays beat Blue Jays 6-2

May 5, 2018
Tampa Bay Rays' Johnny Field, right, shakes hands with third base coach Matt Quatraro after Field hit a home run off Toronto Blue Jays starting pitcher J.A. Happ during the third inning of a baseball game Friday, May 4, 2018, in St. Petersburg, Fla. (AP Photo/Chris O'Meara)

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (AP) — Ryan Yarbrough focused on remaining aggressive against Toronto’s hitters instead of making his case for a spot in Tampa Bay’s injury-depleted rotation.

Five scoreless innings in Friday’s night’s 6-2 victory over the Blue Jays took care of the latter for the Rays rookie relief pitcher.

“I was just worrying about going as far as I could today and kind of play it by ear after that,” Yarbrough said.

“A couple guys told me: ‘Man, you’re really working fast out there.’ I was just trying to get the ball and get back out and stay aggressive, just keep ’em off-balance,” the 26-year-old left-hander added. “Really just a lot of push-and-pull and really pitching in every essence of the word.”

Johnny Field homered off J.A. Happ (4-2) and Brad Miller added a two-run shot to put it out of reach in the eighth. Wilson Ramos, Denard Span and Adeiny Hechavarria also drove in runs for the Rays, who’ve won 10 of 13 after a slow start.

Yarbrough (2-1) allowed a single to the first batter he faced — Dalton Pompey in the third inning — then retired 15 in a row. He’ll make his second start of the season next Wednesday vs. Atlanta.

“I played with him all last year, and that’s kind of what he does right there,” Field, another rookie, said. “He’s consistent every time he goes out there, throws all his pitches for strikes, keeps guys off-balance. Even if he doesn’t have his best stuff, he’s going to compete and give his team a chance to win.”

Yarbrough, who manager Kevin Cash earlier said was a likely candidate to replace injured starter Yonny Chirinos, struck out four before being replaced in the eighth by Sergio Romo, who yielded a solo homer to Aledmys Diaz. Alex Colome worked the ninth in a non-save situation.

While the Rays planned to open the season with a four-man rotation and use bullpen days as needed for a fifth starter, injuries to Nathan Eovaldi and now Chirinos have forced Cash at times to go with three starters and a nine-man bullpen that includes Andrew Kittredge and three other long relievers.

Kittredge made his third start Friday night, allowing one run and two hits in two innings.

Toronto’s Curtis Granderson doubled and scored on Teoscar Hernandez’s sacrifice fly in the first inning. Luke Maile had the Blue Jays’ other hit, a two-out single in the second off Kittredge.

Happ allowed three runs and four hits in 5 2/3 innings. He walked four and struck out three.

“He’s been so good,” Toronto manager John Gibbons said. “But it just shows you when you’re a little bit off, and you still hold a team down to three runs, it’s pretty good.”

The Blue Jays played their fourth game over three days in three cities. They lost in Minnesota on Wednesday before splitting two games Thursday in Cleveland — a doubleheader that had to be scheduled because of weather postponements on consecutive days in mid-April.

What already figured to be a long day was extended by a 1-hour, 53-minute rain delay before Game 1, which last 11 innings and nearly five hours. The team arrived in Florida around 4 a.m. Friday.

“Some guys were playing 18 innings, then you travel all night,” Gibbons said. “It’s tough to complain about anything in this job, but there’s one thing you can complain about.”

The Rays were off Thursday after returning home from an eight-game road trip.


Blue Jays: Granderson left in the second inning with right hamstring tightness. ... Utilityman Steve Peace was placed on the 10-day disabled list after straining his oblique during Thursday’s doubleheader. ... 1B Justin Smoak (paternity leave) is expected to return to the team on Sunday.

Rays: Eovaldi (right elbow surgery) started a rehab assignment, pitching one inning with Class A Charlotte. He threw 17 pitches, allowing one run and two hits. against Bradenton.


The Blue Jays recalled OF Pompey and INF Richard Urena from Triple-A Buffalo and optioned RHPs Joe Biagini and Carlos Ramirez and OF Dwight Smith Jr. to the International League club. RHP Luis Santos was designated for assignment. RHP Jake Petricka had his contract purchased from Buffalo.

The Rays announced after the game that RHP Chih-Wei Hu was optioned to Triple-Durham. RHP Ryne Stanek was recalled from the minor league affiliate.


The Blue Jays extended their affiliation agreement with Triple-A Buffalo two years through the 2020 season.


Blue Jays: RHP Aaron Sanchez (2-2, 4.06) starts the middle game of the weekend series.

Rays: Jake Faria (2-1, 4.60) makes his seventh start of the season. He’s allowed one run or fewer in four of his outings.


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