DUNEDIN — Rays RHP prospect Taylor Guerrieri felt pretty good about how he handled himself in the first two innings Sunday, allowing only a leadoff single while using his heavy-sinking fastball to retire top Toronto hitters such as Josh Donaldson, Jose Bautista and Troy Tulowitzki.
But it was his struggles in the third inning of the 6-1 split-squad loss — capped by a three-run Bautista bomb — that might provide the biggest lesson for the 23-year-old who has made only eight starts above Class A.
"I was happy to get out there and face their big boys and pump some strikes in there," Guerrieri said. "The first two innings I felt really comfortable. I was throwing a lot of strikes and I was getting some good swings from a pitcher's perspective, some weak contact."
But after starting the third with another groundout, Guerrieri saw how quickly things can change. A ground ball by Andy Burns went through for a single, Ryan Goins followed with another. Kevin Pillar grounded into a forceout at second, but a full-count walk to Donaldson loaded the bases for Bautista.
First Guerrieri bounced a pitch to allow one run then failed to come inside enough on a 1-and-2 fastball, and Bautista launched it off the light tower beyond the leftfield fence.
"I think that's going to sit with me a little bit," Guerrieri said. "I don't know really what happened. I really don't. Maybe they got to see me twice. And Bautista got me. I made him look pretty good out there."
Guerrieri was the first of three starting prospects to face the Blue Jays. RHP Jake Faria worked 21/3 hitless innings — and made a pitch, unsuccessful, to stay in to face Bautista — and RHP Jaime Schultz went 12/3, allowing only a walk.
"The young kids showed pretty good today," said bench coach Tom Foley, who managed the Dunedin squad. "And that's why we like them."
ERASMO EFFECTIVE: RHP Erasmo Ramirez looked to be in trouble when he started the second inning of the 13-5 split-squad win over the Red Sox in Port Charlotte by allowing three singles.
But unlike Tuesday, when he did the same against the Tigers and allowed four runs, Ramirez responded without allowing any.
"In my mind, I got a flashback to the last time," Ramirez said. "But in this moment, I tried to focus and just throw harder. I just went out there and execute and let my players play defense."
GAME DETAILS: In Port Charlotte, 2B Logan Forsythe had two of the Rays' 16 hits, giving him a team-high 10 for the spring. … INF/OF Patrick Leonard, the minor-leaguer acquired in the James Shields-Wil Myers trade, hit a three-run homer off the top of the scoreboard in left-center. … C Hank Conger homered onto the rightfield boardwalk. … In Dunedin, the Rays got their only run on fifth-inning doubles by Nick Franklin and nonroster 1B Kyle Roller. … C Rene Rivera fired a strike to second to catch Domonic Brown trying to steal.
MEDICAL MATTERS: INF/OF Steve Pearce (tight right calf) continues to improve, taking batting practice in the cage and eyeing a return this week. … RHP Matt Andriese, scratched from Sunday's start in Dunedin due to abdominal muscle tightness, hopes to play catch today. … Video coordinator Chris "Chico" Fernandez was taken to a hospital for tests after feeling ill during the game in Port Charlotte; dehydration was suspected.
MISCELLANY: Cash said the roster for the March 20-22 Cuba trip should be just about set by tonight. … SS Brad Miller, who lives in the Orlando area, rejoins the team today for the game at Disney after getting two days off. … Double-A Montgomery manager Brady Williams made the trip to Dunedin to coach first, which gave him a chance to see his dad, former Toronto (plus Boston and Houston) manager Jimy, and several former Jays colleagues.
Information from Josh Vitale of the Charlotte Sun was used in this report.