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Toronto at Tampa Bay

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Jays' prospect Chacin tops Rays' youngster Kazmir

SportsLine.com wire reports
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ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- Although the season is just two games old, manager John Gibbons already feels good about the Blue Jays' chances of improving on last year's tumble to the AL East cellar.

"This is a good tight-knitted bunch that pulls for each other. They have fun, but are very intense," Gibbons said after Tuesday night's 6-3 victory over the Tampa Bay Devil Rays gave the club a 2-0 start for the first time since 2002.

The Blue Jays started 0-3 on their way to a last-place finish a year ago.

"Ride the wave," Gibbons said, smiling. "I don't know how big the wave is."

Shea Hillenbrand's bases-loaded single snapped a sixth-inning tie and helped promising young left-hander Gustavo Chacin get his second major-league victory.

Chacin allowed two singles and Alex Gonzalez's solo homer in five innings. The 24-year-old Venezuelan struck out three and walked one before being removed after Toronto scored five times to pull away from a 1-1 tie in the sixth.

"This year, I feel a little bit more comfortable and relaxed," said Chacin, who got his first win at Yankee Stadium in September. "I've got to keep doing the same thing, working hard and preparing for my next start."

Miguel Batista worked the ninth, finishing a seven-hitter for his second save in as many chances.

The biggest blow in the Toronto sixth was Hillenbrand's two-run single off loser Seth McClung, pitching for the first time since elbow surgery in 2003. All five runs were charged to McClung, ruining a solid effort by starter Scott Kazmir.

Kazmir, the second youngest player in the majors at 21 years, two months, allowed one run and three hits -- one of them Reed Johnson's triple that left fielder Eduardo Perez lost in the lights -- in five innings.

"He pitched well," Devil Rays manager Lou Piniella said. "You can't be disappointed. He should have had five shutout innings, really."

The start was the eighth of his Kazmir's career. The left-hander was acquired in July in a trade that sent Victor Zambrano to the New York Mets and went 2-3 with a 5.67 ERA the rest of the season.

Kazmir's worst outing in the majors by far was a two-inning stint against Toronto, in which he allowed seven runs, six hits and three walks in a road loss on Sept. 19. He was much sharper this time, giving up three hits, walking two and striking out two.

He came out after 89 pitches. Toronto then loaded the bases with no outs in the sixth on a walk and singles by Orlando Hudson and Vernon Wells. Hillenbrand's two-run single put Toronto ahead for good, and Alex Rios followed with a sacrifice fly for a 4-1 lead.

Gregg Zaun singled to drive in the fourth run of the inning, chasing McClung. John McDonald added a RBI single off Casey Fossum to make it 6-1.

"I wish I could have had a couple of at-bats back," said Kazmir, who gave up the triple to Johnson in the first inning before watching him score on Frank Menechino's grounder to second base.

Like Kazmir, Chacin also made his major-league debut last season, winning at Yankee Stadium in his first start on Sept. 20 and finishing 1-1 with a 2.57 ERA. The left-hander led the AL with four wins during spring training, and limited the Devil Rays to a pair of singles before Gonzalez hit Tampa Bay's first homer of the season.

"That looked like what we saw last year," Gibbons said, adding that pitching coach Brad Arnsberg made a few adjustments with the left-hander after his last exhibition start.

"He was flying open and falling off the mound," the manager said. "I don't remember one pitch he did that on tonight."

Jorge Cantu led off Tampa Bay's seventh against Brandon League with his first major-league homer. Carl Crawford added a RBI single to trim the Devil Rays' deficit to 6-3.

Notes

  • The Devil Rays are 0-2 for the first time in franchise history. They have been 1-1 six times and 2-0 once.
  • Chacin's 18 regular-season wins for Double-A New Hampshire and Triple-A Syracuse were the most in the minor leagues last year.
  • Attendance for the middle game of the three-game series was announced as 9,144. Monday's 26,018 was the smallest opening-day crowd in Devil Rays history.

 
Copyright 2014 by STATS LLC and The Associated Press. Any commercial use or distribution without the express written consent of STATS LLC and The Associated Press is strictly prohibited.
 
 
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Toronto's Eric Hinske declares himself safe after sliding past Tampa Bay catcher Toby Hall. He is. (AP)
Toronto's Eric Hinske declares himself safe after sliding past Tampa Bay catcher Toby Hall. He is. (AP)

Players of the Game
Tampa Bay

A. Gonzalez
AB 4
R 1
H 2
HR 1
RBI 1
Toronto

V. Wells
AB 4
R 1
H 2
HR 0
RBI 0
 
Toronto Blue Jays
Reed Johnson, LF5110004 .167
Frank Menechino, 2B2001001 .000
   a- Orlando Hudson, PH-2B3110012 .286
Vernon Wells, CF4120100 .375
Corey Koskie, 3B3100211 .000
Shea Hillenbrand, DH4012012 .375
Alex Rios, RF3101002 .000
Eric Hinske, 1B3100130 .143
Gregg Zaun, C4021000 .250
John McDonald, SS4031001 .750
Totals3561064613 
a-singled for Menechino in the 6th
Batting
2B - John McDonald (1, Kazmir)
3B - Reed Johnson (1, Kazmir), Vernon Wells (1, Fossum)
SF - Alex Rios (1)
RBI - Frank Menechino (1), Shea Hillenbrand 2 (2), Alex Rios (1), Gregg Zaun (1), John McDonald (1)
CS - Vernon Wells (1, 2nd base by Kazmir/Hall)
Team LOB - 7
Toronto Blue Jays
Gustavo Chacin (W,1-0) 5311131 1.80
Brandon League 1.2222121 10.80
Scott Schoeneweis (H,2) 0.2100000 0.00
Justin Speier (H,1) 0.2100000 0.00
Miguel Batista (S,2) 1000010 0.00
WP - Brandon League (1), Scott Schoeneweis (1)
Pitches-Strikes - Gustavo Chacin 73-44, Brandon League 30-15, Scott Schoeneweis 11-6, Justin Speier 10-7, Miguel Batista 16-10
Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Gustavo Chacin 5-7, Brandon League 1-2, Scott Schoeneweis 1-1, Justin Speier 1-1, Miguel Batista 1-1
Batters Faced - Gustavo Chacin 19, Brandon League 8, Scott Schoeneweis 3, Justin Speier 3, Miguel Batista 3
Tampa Bay Devil Rays
Carl Crawford, CF-LF4011002 .125
Julio Lugo, SS4000014 .250
Aubrey Huff, RF4000012 .000
Josh Phelps, DH4010020 .375
Jorge Cantu, 2B4111001 .286
Eduardo Perez, LF2010000 .500
   a- Chris Singleton, PH-CF2000001 .167
Travis Lee, 1B4110001 .375
Toby Hall, C2000210 .333
Alex Gonzalez, 3B4121012 .250
Totals343732613 
a-flied out for Perez in the 7th
Batting
HR - Jorge Cantu (1, League), Alex Gonzalez (1, Chacin)
RBI - Carl Crawford (2), Jorge Cantu (2), Alex Gonzalez (1)
2-OUT RBI - Carl Crawford (1), Alex Gonzalez (1)
SB - Carl Crawford (1, 2nd base off Schoeneweis/Zaun)
Team LOB - 6
Fielding
Outfield Assists - Aubrey Huff 1
Tampa Bay Devil Rays
Scott Kazmir 5311220 1.80
Seth McClung (L,0-1) 0.1455200135.00
Casey Fossum 2.1300030 0.00
Travis Harper 1.1000010 0.00
WP - Scott Kazmir (1)
Pitches-Strikes - Scott Kazmir 89-58, Seth McClung 31-16, Casey Fossum 30-19, Travis Harper 13-10
Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Scott Kazmir 5-7, Casey Fossum 3-1, Travis Harper 2-1
Batters Faced - Scott Kazmir 19, Seth McClung 7, Casey Fossum 10, Travis Harper 4
Game Information
Attendance - 9144
Game Time - 2:54
Temperature - 72
Umpires - Home - C.B. Bucknor, First Base - Phil Cuzzi, Second Base - Bob Davidson, Third Base - Ed Rapuano