TORONTO — The Rays have been getting vastly improved starting pitching, best in the majors ERA-wise, since the All-Star break. But their losing record in the first 23 games since proved that hadn't been their only problem.
They addressed that Tuesday night with an impressive hit show, rapping 15 on the way to a 9-2 victory over the Blue Jays. The win made than 12-12 since the break and allowed them, at least temporarily, to shed the AL's worst record, at 46-66.
"We know we're capable of more offensively, we're capable of doing a better job with runners in scoring position, and we did tonight to an extent," manager Kevin Cash said. "So that's a good sign."
Logan Forsythe got them started with a leadoff home run off usually troubling Marco Estrada and was one of six Rays with multiple hits. The biggest was probably 3B Evan Longoria's RBI double in the sixth, then Mikie Mahtook's ensuing RBI single after the Jays had closed the gap to 3-2.
"We were able to tack on some more runs and separate," Longoria said. "So it was a good win for us."
LHP Drew Smyly did some impressive escaping, allowing six hits and three walks in six innings but only two runs, logging a fourth straight quality start, with two wins after going 11 without.
After zipping through four innings, Smyly loaded the bases to open the fifth on two singles and a walk and allowed two runs. He started the sixth the same way but, more impressively, wiggled out without allowing anything.
"He limited the damage really, really well," Cash said.
It was the 20th straight game Rays starters allowed three or fewer earned runs, a team mark.
REHAB REPORT: RHP Alex Cobb (Tommy John surgery) moves up to Triple-A Durham tonight to make his third start since resuming his rehab, and his fifth overall, with a target of four innings/60 pitches. … Newly acquired SS Matt Duffy (left Achilles strain) was 2-for-3 with a walk for Durham, planning to play for the Bulls again tonight and join the Rays for Friday's game. … OF Oswaldo Arcia (right elbow strain) started his rehab assignment with the advanced Class A Stone Crabs, going 1-for-3 as the DH at Jupiter.
ARCHER IMPACT: RHP Chris Archer today will deliver the keynote address for an International Youth Day workshop, speaking to nearly 200 teens who were staffers for the Rookie League summer day camp in Toronto Community Housing buildings.
SAFETY FIRST: 2B Logan Forsythe said he opted for caution in not trying to tag up in the seventh inning Monday on a fly to no-longer strong-armed RF Jose Bautista: "I thought it was going to be too close to call."
MISCELLANY: Fox has picked up Friday's Rays-Yankees Alex Rodriguez farewell game for national television, so there will be no broadcast on Fox Sports Sun. … The Rogers Centre official scorer changed a Monday wild pitch on RHP Jake Odorizzi to a passed ball on C Bobby Wilson, slicing two earned runs off Odorizzi's stat line and improving his ERA to 3.69. … Brad Miller started again at first base and made several nice plays. … Cash argued vehemently after Mahtook was called out for running inside the baseline but said later the umps got it right.