Pillar scores tiebreaking run off Alvarado as Toronto edges Tampa Bay
Finally hitting his stride in the midst of a trying season, Marcus Stroman's body has betrayed him in two straight starts.
Kevin Pillar scored the tiebreaking run on an infield grounder in the sixth inning, and the Toronto Blue Jays overcame another abbreviated start by Stroman to beat the Tampa Bay Rays 2-1 on Sunday.
Limited to two pitches because of a recurring blister, Stroman battled through five innings before deciding he couldn't risk further damage to his tender middle finger. The right-hander allowed one run and five hits while throwing 76 pitches.
"I just threw sinker, cutter today because I couldn't put pressure on my curveball or slider," Stroman said. "I pushed it pretty aggressively. It was just at the point where I felt like if I continued to go, I would have to possibly miss my next start."
Stroman left Tuesday's game against Boston after seven innings because of a blister on his right middle finger, walking off with the trainer after coming out to warm up for the eighth.
Devon Travis had two hits and drove in a run as the Blue Jays won for the second time in nine meetings with the Rays, avoiding a three-game series sweep.
Tampa Bay's lone run came in the fourth on a two-out RBI single by Willy Adames.
Jaime Garcia (3-6) worked one inning for the win. Danny Barnes got two outs in the seventh and Tyler Clippard got the third, stranding runners at the corners. Ryan Tepera pitched the eighth and Ken Giles finished for his 13th save in 13 opportunities.
"We got pitched tough," Rays manager Kevin Cash said. "Still not clicking offensively like we're capable of."
Making his third start for Tampa Bay since being acquired from Pittsburgh last month, right-hander Tyler Glasnow allowed one run and two hits in five-plus innings.
Pillar pinch-hit for Curtis Granderson and greeted right-hander Jose Alvarado (1-5) with a double. Travis followed with a tying single and, one out later, Pillar raced home from third on Randal Grichuk's groundout to the catcher.
Pitcher Ryne Stanek covered home plate but Pillar evaded the tag and was called safe. Tampa Bay challenged umpire Ryan Additon's call but it was confirmed by video review. The lead was Toronto's first of the series.
"He left me a little window between his legs to try and get home plate," Pillar said. "Sometimes you've got to gamble and it paid off."
Giles gave Toronto its first save in 19 games, ending a streak that matched the 10th-longest in team history.
KEEPING IT CLOSE
The Rays are 22-28 in one-run games, while the Blue Jays are 15-12.
Following the game, Toronto optioned right-hander Danny Barnes to Triple-A Buffalo to clear a roster spot for right-hander Sean Reid-Foley, who will make his major league debut at Kansas City on Monday. The Blue Jays still need to open a 40-man roster spot for Reid-Foley.
Rays: Following the game, RHP Jamie Schultz was optioned to Triple-A Durham. RHP Chaz Roe (left knee) will be come off the 10-day disabled list Tuesday.
Blue Jays: INF Yangervis Solarte (strained right oblique) was placed on the 10-day DL and C Danny Jansen was promoted from Buffalo. Jansen, who played in this year's Futures Game, was batting .275 with 12 homers and 58 RBIs in 88 games at Triple-A.
Jansen was removed from Buffalo's game Saturday when word of his promotion reached the dugout. Manager Bobby Meacham broke the news by telling Jansen "Kid, you're going to the big leagues. I don't want to see you again."
Rays: Are off Monday. They have not named a starter for Tuesday's opener of a three-game series against the New York Yankees. The Rays have lost 12 straight series at Yankee Stadium.
Blue Jays: Reid-Foley will pitch to Jansen, his former Triple-A batterymate, when faces the Royals on Monday. Reid-Foley went 12-4 with a 2.98 ERA in 23 starts at Double-A and Triple-A this season. RHP Brad Keller (4-5, 3.57 ERA) starts for Kansas City.