Bi­agini sets up win in his first ma­jor-league start

The Hamilton Spectator - - SPORTS - MARK DIDTLER

Even though he didn’t get the win, Joe Bi­agini set one up for the Toronto Blue Jays.

Bi­agini and four re­liev­ers com­bined on a three-hit­ter, Dar­win Bar­ney hit a tiebreak­ing homer in the eighth in­ning as Toronto beat the Tampa Bay Rays, 2-1, Sun­day af­ter­noon.

The Blue Jays took two of three from the Rays to win a road se­ries for the first time this sea­son (1-4-1).

Bi­agini al­lowed an un­earned run, two hits and struck out four over four in­nings in his first ma­jor league start. The right-han­der was in­serted into the Toronto ro­ta­tion af­ter 74 ca­reer re­lief ap­pear­ances due to in­juries to Aaron Sanchez and J.A. Happ, and Mat Latos be­ing des­ig­nated for as­sign­ment.

“The goal for me was al­ways to start in the ma­jor leagues,” Bi­agini said. “To say that I did that is pretty cool.”

Toronto man­ager John Gib­bons said Bi­agini will re­main in the ro­ta­tion.

Aaron Loup, Ryan Tepera (2-1), Joe Smith and Roberto Osuna com­bined to hold the Rays to one hit over five in­nings.

Osuna walked Steven Souza Jr. and gave up a sin­gle to Colby Ras­mus with two outs in the ninth be­fore strik­ing out Daniel Robert­son to get his fourth save. Toronto’s bullpen hasn’t al­lowed an earned run in its last 13 1/3 in­nings.

“Bullpens go in cy­cles just like ev­ery­thing else, but our guys are start­ing to step up and es­tab­lish them­selves,” Gib­bons said.

Bar­ney put the Blue Jays up 2-1 with his first homer of the year. He con­nected off Alex Cobb (2-3), who gave up two runs and four hits in eight in­nings.

“I thought Cobb was phe­nom­e­nal,” Rays man­ager Kevin Cash said. “You saw two po­lar op­po­sites, with a guy that was buzzing through a lineup by him­self, and you saw a com­bi­na­tion of guys buzz through an­other lineup.”

The lone run off Bi­agini came in the third when Kevin Kier­maier reached on sec­ond base­man Devon Travis’ field­ing er­ror and scored on Corey Dick­er­son’s two-out sin­gle. The Jays tied it in the sixth on Kevin Pil­lar’s dou­ble and came home on Russell Martin’s two-out sin­gle.

TRAINER’S ROOM Blue Jays: Sanchez (split fin­ger­nail) felt no pain and was “very en­cour­aged” fol­low­ing a 33-pitch bullpen ses­sion. He is due to pitch Tues­day at ex­tended spring train­ing and could re­join the ro­ta­tion af­ter . ... Happ (left el­bow) is throw­ing from 90 feet on flat ground. BAUTISTA’S BLUES Blue Jays slug­ger Jose Bautista went 0 for 13, in­clud­ing seven strike­outs, in the se­ries. His bat­ting av­er­age dropped to .174.

UP NEXT Jays: RHP Mar­cus Stro­man (2-2) starts Monday night against Cleve­land RHP Trevor Bauer (2-3). Stro­man was pulled af­ter three in­nings, his short­est start in three years, in an 8-6 loss to the Yan­kees Wednesday night be­cause of tight­ness in his right armpit.

CHRIS O’MEARA, THE AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

Toronto Blue Jays’ starter Joe Bi­agini al­lowed an un­earned run, two hits and struck out four over four in­nings against the Tampa Bay Rays on Sun­day.

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