ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — Three quick homers and strong pitching by the Tampa Bay Rays put an end to Toronto’s winning streak.
Jeremy Hellickson allowed one hit in seven shutout innings and rookie Wil Myers homered in his home debut, helping the Rays beat the Blue Jays 4-1 on Monday night to end Toronto’s 11-game surge.
“I think that, to go on that streak, we had to believe that we were able to do that,” Blue Jays catcher J.P. Arencibia said. “I don’t think the belief has changed at all. We had a good run, game over, and come back tomorrow.”
Myers hit the second of three straight Tampa Bay homers in the second, connecting in his first at-bat at Tropicana Field. He received a standing ovation from a crowd of 11,407 getting its initial close-up view of the key acquisition in the off-season trade that sent pitchers James Shields and Wade Davis to Kansas City for the power-hitting right fielder and other prospects.
“He’s got it all,” Blue Jays manager John Gibbons said. “He’s got a chance to be a really, really good player. It’s all in there.”
Myers’ drive to centre off Esmil Rogers (3-3) was sandwiched between home runs by James Loney and Sam Fuld as Tampa Bay went deep three times within a span of eight pitches. Luke Scott added a bloop RBI double to make it 4-0 in the third, and that was all the support Hellickson needed.
“I was a little scared to throw my breaking pitch,” Rogers said. “I don’t know why.”
A night after scoring a season-high 13 runs at home to complete a three-game sweep of Baltimore, the Blue Jays were limited to four singles and five walks. They came up short in their bid to extend the longest winning streak in the majors since Detroit won 12 straight in 2011.
Hellickson (6-3) gave up Arencibia’s single, walked four and struck out four. He allowed only one runner past first base — in the second inning, when Colby Rasmus walked and moved to third when Arencibia followed with his hit to centre field.
The Blue Jays stranded Rasmus, who drew three of Toronto’s five walks, when Maicer Izturis grounded into an inning-ending double play.
“The three home runs hurt right there, but their pitching shut us down,” Gibbons said. “That was the story of the game. Losses are never easy, but we’ve been on a nice little roll. We’ll start another one tomorrow.”
Toronto finally broke through in the eighth when it loaded the bases with one out against Alex Torres with a pair of singles and a walk. Jose Bautista grounded into a force play to drive in a run before Edwin Encarnacion flied out to end the threat.
Fernando Rodney worked the ninth for the Rays, earning his 16th save in 21 opportunities.
The Blue Jays’ longest winning streak in nearly 15 years matched the best in club history. They also won 11 straight in 1987 and 1998.
The Rays began the day last in the AL East, one percentage point behind the surging Blue Jays, who gained seven games on Tampa Bay during their winning streak.