Toronto Blue Jays Highlights & Lowlights: 8-2 Loss to Tampa Bay

Jays From the Couch brings you the Highlights & Lowlights of the Toronto Blue Jays in Spring Training action. Today, they lost to the Rays 8-2.

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While the city they call home remained plunged in a late-winter freeze, the baby Blue Jays got a chance to stretch their wings as they continued their road trip with today’s stop in Port Charlotte to play the Rays. Only two regulars started in the lineup as Steve Pearce drew DH duties and Ezequiel Carrera started in center field and batted leadoff. A sign of things to come in the regular season? Lourdes Gourriel Jr. also got the call at shortstop. Meanwhile, Ryan Borucki drew the start in a bullpen game for the Blue Jays.

Toronto Blue Jays:   2 R   5 H   4 E
Tampa Bay Rays:   8 R   10 H   0 E

Lineups:

Highlights

Jon Berti continued his fine spring. He walked and stole a base in the first and may have moved ahead of Jake Elmore in the infield depth chart. The 18th round pick in 2011 will start in Buffalo after playing there last year, but could be in Toronto if Devon Travis remains out for a length of time and another injury pops up.

Juan Graterol got to show off his arm in the third, nailing counterpart Luke Maile on a stolen base attempt.

Tim Mayza is making it very difficult for the Blue Jays send him back down. The lefty, who Jeff Quattrociocchi discussed earlier today, threw an impressive inning, sitting down Kevin Kiermaier and Brad Miller on strikes and getting Evan Longoria to ground out. The 25-year-old now has 7 Ks in  4.1 IP this spring and is a real dark horse candidate to unseat Aaron Loup in the Blue Jays bullpen.

Other bullpen battle news saw ex-Mariner and Diamondback Dominic Leone go 1-2-3 in the 4th with the help of Graterol’s arm. Leone’s ERA is down to 3.38 and in the righty battle, he’s been more consistent the some of the incumbent names (Bo Schultz, Ryan Tepera).

One young Rays fan was spotted wearing a signed Steve Pearce jersey, so at least Pearce is still being shown some love by the Tampa faithful.

Lowlights

The Blue Jays infield didn’t feature any projected starters and it showed. Two errors on the right side as Gurriel threw one ball away in the second to put an extra runner on for Jake Bauers. The Rays left fielder launched his second homer of the spring off Borucki to give Tampa the early lead.

Later, Jake Elmore couldn’t handle a grounder by Logan Morrison and put the ex-Twitter superstar aboard. It was compounded by a error on a pickoff attempt by Brett Oberholtzer but LoMo was stranded as Oberholtzer punched out Kiermaier.

One more error came in the 7th as Jason Leblebijian tried to backhand a grounder from Patrick Leonard and it bounced off his glove. It put the former Royals prospect aboard and ended Chad Girodo‘s day. Leonard would later score on a Ryan Brett single.

Borucki was solid in the first, working around a leadoff single to get the next three batter in order, but he tired too quickly and Bauers took advantage. Borucki is not expected to be a multi-inning reliever at the major league level, but being unable to deliver two frames doesn’t bode well for this year’s chances as length will be the key to sticking in the Blue Jays bullpen barring injury.

Oberholtzer should have his Buffalo apartment locked down by now. The home run by Longoria gave Tampa the lead for good, and Oberholtzer’s ERA now honors Dean Chance‘s Cy Young season for the Angels by sitting at 19.64.

Girodo’s fall from lefty grace continues. He did well to clean up Oberholtzer’s mess by striking out Willy Adames. However, 2014 first-rounder Casey Gillaspie tagged him for a bomb to left field to put this one out of reach for the Rays.

In other bullpen news, recent JftC radio guest Chris Smith couldn’t stop the bleeding in the 7th. He gave up two hits and two walks before finally retiring Dayron Verona in the right fielder’s second at bat of the inning. Jarrett Grube gave up Gillaspie’s second home run of the game to lead off the 8th.

News & Notes:

Expect the first cuts of camp to come soon as MLB teams start to pare down the rosters. Oakland already sent nine players to the minor league camp earlier today, as reported by Susan Slusser, so the Blue Jays will look to follow suit. Names like Anthony Alford, Wil Browning, Oberholtzer and others will likely be joining the Dunedin camp soon.

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Ryan has been immersed in sports from a young age, since he could read Jr. Jays comics as they filtered into the backwoods of Northern Nova Scotia. He’s been blogging about sports since high school, writing on FOX Sports.com’s blogs as well as his own Tailpipe Sports blog. He’s been with Jays From the Couch since its humble beginnings, and continues to contribute as he forges a career in the sports journalism industry. He brings a discerning eye, a smoking keyboard, and a brain that made Jeopardy! rethink letting Canadians onto their program.

Ryan Andrews

Ryan has been immersed in sports from a young age, since he could read Jr. Jays comics as they filtered into the backwoods of Northern Nova Scotia. He’s been blogging about sports since high school, writing on FOX Sports.com’s blogs as well as his own Tailpipe Sports blog. He’s been with Jays From the Couch since its humble beginnings, and continues to contribute as he forges a career in the sports journalism industry. He brings a discerning eye, a smoking keyboard, and a brain that made Jeopardy! rethink letting Canadians onto their program.