ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — Josh Donaldson, Michael Saunders and Josh Thole homered to help R.A. Dickey and the Toronto Blue Jays beat the Tampa Bay Rays 5-3 on Monday night.
All three of the home runs were hit off Drew Smyly, with Donaldson connecting for a solo shot in the fifth inning, Saunders delivering a two-run homer in the fourth and Thole going deep on a third-inning drive that umpires initially ruled was a double after a fan interfered by catching the ball before it reached the stands.
The call was reversed after a replay review, erasing a 1-0 Tampa Bay lead.
Roberto Osuna, the fifth Blue Jays pitcher, worked a perfect ninth for his second save.
Smyly, limited to 12 starts a year ago when he spent much of the season on the disabled list due to left shoulder tendinitis, allowed five runs and six hits in 6 2-3 innings. The left-hander walked one and struck out five.
Donaldson hit .297 with 41 homers and 123 RBIs in 2015. The reigning AL MVP helped the Blue Jays win 93 games and advance to the AL Championship Series in their first playoff appearance since 1993.
Troy Tulowitzki had a sacrifice fly after homering during the Blue Jays’ 5-3 victory on opening day. Monday night’s game drew a crowd of 15,116 to Tropicana Field, a little less than half Sunday’s announced sellout of 31,042.
Blue Jays: RHP Marco Estrada (back) pitched in a minor league game in Dunedin, Florida, and remains on schedule to pitch Sunday’s game in Toronto against Cleveland. … Manager John Gibbons said Thole will work most of Dickey’s starts because it will help regular C Russell Martin physically to avoid the stress of handling knuckleballs.
Toronto centre fielder Kevin Pillar made a nice running catch on pinch hitter Steve Pearce’s drive to left-centre, extending his glove fully before leaping to make the catch and falling headfirst into the wall.
The Blue Jays’ lineup featured six straight right-handed hitters at the top of the order against Smyly. Gibbons finished it with three lefties, even though the manager acknowledged constructing the lineup that way figured to make it easier for the Rays to set up their bullpen “with us going right-right-right.”
Rays ace Chris Archer is one four pitchers to strike out 12 or more batters on opening day and lose. He was the first do it since Bob Gibson fanned 12 for St. Louis against Montreal in 1975.
Blue Jays RHP Aaron Sanchez, 7-6 with a 3.22 ERA in 2015, starts Tuesday in the third game of the four-game series between the AL East rivals. The Rays counter with RHP Jake Odorizzi, who was 9-9 with a 3.35 ERA last season.