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Toronto at Tampa Bay

Tampa Bay
W: R. Ortiz (1-0) L: J. Wright (0-1) S: J. Perez (1)
HR: TOR - C. Rasmus (1),J. Bautista (5),E. Velez (1)   TB - None

Blue Jays 3, Rays 1


PORT CHARLOTTE, Fla. (AP) - With every ball that Jose Bautista launches far over the wall, the Toronto Blue Jays are more certain he's back to form.

Bautista hit his fifth home run of the spring, a long solo shot that helped the Blue Jays beat the Tampa Bay Rays 3-1 Thursday.

Bautista, a two-time home run champion, had season-ending surgery on his left wrist last Sept. 4. He finished the year with 27 homers and 65 RBIs while batting .241.

His drive to deep left-center field was another reassuring sign for his team.

"He's healthy. We've felt good about him the last three weeks," Toronto manager John Gibbons said. "He's gotten past that and shown no signs of anything being wrong."

Roberto Hernandez is feeling better himself, too.

The Tampa Bay pitcher threw six innings, allowing one run on three hits while striking out two and walking no one. He also got Bautista to ground into a double play in the first. The only blemish was a home run by Colby Rasmus.

"Everything was working," Rays manager Joe Maddon said. "His fastball really had good dive to it. Nice changeup, His slider. All good."

By now, most are somewhat familiar with the Hernandez story. He is probably still best known as Fausto Carmona. It was under that name that in 2007, at age 26, he went 19-8, finished fourth in the AL Cy Young Award voting and helped the Indians get within a game of World Series.

A big contract followed, but Hernandez was never able to replicate the success he enjoyed that season. His heavy sinking fastball didn't sink enough, and he couldn't locate the rest of his pitches.

The 32-year-old Hernandez was later arrested in the Dominican Republic on false identity charges. The charges were dropped after he completed a work program, and Major League Baseball suspended him for three weeks.

Hernandez sprained his right ankle last August and missed the rest of the year. He has pitched seven years in the majors, all with Cleveland. He was 0-3 with a 7.53 ERA last season.

The Rays, remembering the 19-8 arm and not the struggles that followed, signed him in the offseason. He is competing for the fifth spot in the rotation.

"Every game is very important for me," he said. "Whenever I have the opportunity to go the mound, every pitch is important. Today, I think I did great. I tried to keep the ball down and get some groundballs."

Eugenio Velez also homered for Toronto. The Rays' only run came in the sixth inning on an infield single from James Loney.

Four Blue Jays pitchers, led by starter Claudio Vargas, combined to allow only six hits and struck out nine.

NOTES: Rays LHP Matt Moore threw 60 pitches in a simulated game. Moore needed the work after missing his start as a result of Wednesday's rainout. ... Evan Longoria hit his team-leading sixth double for the Rays. ... Tampa Bay's Desmond Jennings stole third base standing up for his sixth spring training theft.

Copyright 2017 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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Players of the Game
Tampa Bay

J. Loney
AB 3
R 0
H 2
HR 0

E. Velez
AB 3
R 1
H 1
HR 1

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Toronto Blue Jays
Anthony Gose, LF-CF4000011 .279
Jim Negrych, 2B4020000 .429
Jose Bautista, RF3111001 .262
    Ryan Schimpf, LF1000011 .120
Colby Rasmus, CF3111010 .179
    Kenny Wilson, RF1000000 .250
Josh Thole, DH4010000 .156
Henry Blanco, C2010000 .320
    Mike Nickeas, C1000101 .226
Luis Jimenez, 1B3000102 .205
Eugenio Velez, 3B3111001 .269
    Andrew Burns, 3B1000002 .000
Mike McCoy, SS3010000 .172
2B - Jim Negrych (3, Peralta)
HR - Jose Bautista (5, Wright), Colby Rasmus (1, R. Hernandez), Eugenio Velez (1, Peralta)
RBI - Jose Bautista (11), Colby Rasmus (2), Eugenio Velez (1)
Team LOB - 5
DP - Negrych-McCoy-Jimenez
E - Eugenio Velez (3, Misplayed grounder)
Toronto Blue Jays
Claudio Vargas 2.2000220 4.22
Brett Cecil 2.1100140 5.27
Ramon Ortiz (BS,1; W,1-0) 3411220 3.27
Juan Perez (S,1) 1100010 0.00
Pitches-Strikes - Claudio Vargas 21-13, Brett Cecil 20-16, Ramon Ortiz 23-15, Juan Perez 6-6
Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Claudio Vargas 3-4, Brett Cecil 1-2, Ramon Ortiz 3-2, Juan Perez 1-1
Batters Faced - Claudio Vargas 11, Brett Cecil 9, Ramon Ortiz 13, Juan Perez 4
Tampa Bay Rays
Desmond Jennings, CF3000000 .314
    Leslie Anderson, LF2010011 .432
Matt Joyce, LF2000110 .257
    Mike Fontenot, SS1000010 .189
Evan Longoria, 3B2010112 .394
    Ryan Roberts, PR-3B1100000 .154
Ben Zobrist, RF1000201 .182
    Shelley Duncan, 1B1010000 .229
Luke Scott, DH4000024 .321
Yunel Escobar, SS2000101 .243
    Sean Rodriguez, CF1000001 .190
James Loney, 1B3021000 .270
    Jason Bourgeois, RF1000000 .296
Jose Lobaton, C4010023 .188
    Rich Thompson, PR0000000 .222
Kelly Johnson, 2B3000010 .135
    Cole Figueroa, 2B1000001 .321
2B - Evan Longoria (6, Ortiz)
RBI - James Loney (3)
SB - Desmond Jennings (6, 3rd base off Cecil/Blanco)
CS - Leslie Anderson (1, 2nd base by Ortiz/Nickeas)
Team LOB - 9
DP - Escobar-Johnson-Loney, Duncan-Fontenot
Tampa Bay Rays
Roberto Hernandez 6311021 3.00
Jamey Wright (L,0-1) 1111101 5.63
Joel Peralta 1311011 1.50
Jake McGee 1100100 5.68
Pitches-Strikes - Roberto Hernandez 25-24, Jamey Wright 11-5, Joel Peralta 7-7, Jake McGee 8-4
Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Roberto Hernandez 11-4, Jamey Wright 2-1, Joel Peralta 1-0, Jake McGee 3-0
Batters Faced - Roberto Hernandez 20, Jamey Wright 5, Joel Peralta 5, Jake McGee 5
Game Information
Attendance - 5876
Game Time - 2:39
Temperature - 66
Umpires - Home - Bill Welke, First Base - Tim Welke, Second Base - Marvin Hudson, Third Base - Paul Emmel