ST. PETERSBURG, Fla.—Tampa Bay manager Kevin Cash was blunt after the Rays closed out a homestand against Miami and Toronto with a 3-2 record.
“Not good enough," Cash said after a 4-3 loss to the Blue Jays yesterday. "You've got to do better than that. Where we're at, we've got to find ways to win.”
Reliever Brock Stewart allowed two hits over four scoreless innings in his Toronto debut as the Blue Jays withstood a late Tampa Bay rally in a bullpen day.
Tampa Bay was able to maintain its one-half game lead for the second AL wild card spot over the Oakland Athletics, who lost 10-1 to the NL Central-leading Chicago Cubs at Wrigley Field.
The Rays fell to 31-28 at home, a major drop-off from last season's 51-30 mark.
“We want to be able to win ballgames here," Tampa Bay catcher Mike Zunino said. "That hasn't been the case. It's one of those things where we need to separate ourselves. We need to play good baseball here.”
Blue Jays rookie Bo Bichette set a team record with a double in eight straight games, breaking the mark of seven set by Carlos Delgado in 2000.
“Let him keep breaking records,” Toronto manager Charlie Montoyo said.
“That's pretty cool.”
The 21-year-old Bichette also extended his career-opening hitting streak to 10 games.
“I'm excited with how I've played," Bichette said. "Hopefully I continue to play well and continue to break more records.”
Stewart (1-0), claimed off waivers from the Los Angeles Dodgers on July 31, followed opener Wilmer Font, who gave up one hit over 2 1/3 innings.
“Definitely felt good," Stewart said. "It's been a grind this year for me personally in the minor leagues.”
After Tim Mayza allowed Avisail Garcia's RBI single before getting the final out in the eighth, Ken Giles gave up Zunino's two-run homer in the ninth before finishing for his 15th save.
Lourdes Gurriel Jr., Randal Grichuk and Derek Fisher homered for the Blue Jays, who were winless in their last 10 series (0-9-1) against Tampa Bay before taking two of three at Tropicana Field. Toronto went 7-3 on a 10-game trip.
Rays two-way player Brendan McKay (2-2) gave up three runs and six hits in five-plus innings. Tampa Bay has won nine of its last 12.
Gurriel put the Blue Jays up 1-0 on a fourth-inning homer. Since returning from Triple-A Buffalo on May 24, he has homered 19 times in 65 games.
Grichuk made it 2-0 on his 19th homer off McKay leading off the sixth.
Justin Smoak singled to end McKay's day after a career-high 93 pitches and scored on Fisher's two-run drive off Colin Poche.
Toronto is among the major league leaders home runs since June 16 with 91.
Cash didn't rule it out completely but indicated that the two-way McKay won't be used as a hitter except when pitching in NL parks because of rotation injuries. AL Cy Young Award winner Blake Snell (left elbow), Tyler Glasnow (right forearm) and Yonny Chirinos (finger) are all out until at least September. McKay is lined up to start next week at San Diego.
The Blue Jays claimed RHP Zack Godley off waivers from Arizona and designated RHP David Paulino for assignment.
In other AL action, Cleveland beat Texas 2-0 and 5-1 in a doubleheader; the Chicago White Sox blasted Detroit 8-1; and the N.Y. Yankees thumped Baltimore 14-2.
The game between Boston and Kansas City was suspended in the ninth inning with the two sides tied at 4-4.
In interleague play, Atlanta dumped Minnesota 11-7; Houston routed Colorado 14-3; the Chicago Cubs downed Oakland 10-1; and Seattle edged San Diego 3-2.
Over in the NL, the N.Y. Mets dispatched Miami 7-2; the L.A. Dodgers shaded St. Louis 2-1; Washington beat San Francisco 4-1; Milwaukee defeated Pittsburgh 8-3; and Arizona upended Philadelphia 6-1.