TORONTO — Former Blue Jays prospect Travis d’Arnaud drove in a pair of runs to lift the Tampa Bay Rays to a 3-1 victory over Toronto on Friday in the opener of a three-game series between division rivals.
The 30-year-old catcher, who was designated for assignment by the New York Mets earlier this season before landing with the Rays, has 18 runs batted in 16 games since July 1.
Austin Meadows had an RBI for Tampa Bay (59-47), which entered play 3 1/2 games back of Cleveland for the American League’s first wild card.
Freddy Galvis drove in the lone Toronto run as the Blue Jays (39-66) dropped to 5-9 since the all-star break and 8-13 in the month of July.
Jacob Waguespack (1-1) allowed three runs and six hits with three walks and two strikeouts in five innings. The rookie right-hander threw 93 pitches, 54 for strikes.
Diego Castillo opened the game for Tampa, followed by 5 1/3 stellar innings from Ryan Yarbrough. Colin Poche pitched the bottom of the ninth to earn his first save in four attempts this season.
Yarbrough (9-3) allowed just one run and four hits while striking out four. He walked Justin Smoak, the first batter he faced, then retired eight in a row before allowing his first hit in the fourth inning.
The struggling Blue Jays have scored three runs or fewer in 52 of 105 games this season, third most in the majors, and are 5-46 in those contests.
Meadows gave Tampa a 1-0 lead in the third inning, plating Tommy Pham from first base on a two-out triple.
Toronto nearly scored two runs in the bottom of the fourth but had to settle for just one following video review on a contested play. With two runners on, Pham bounced a Galvis double off himself and into the left-field stands. While Smoak was able to score from second base, Randal Grichuk was sent back to third after the umpires determined the play a ground-rule double.
D’Arnaud extended Tampa’s lead to 3-1 in the fifth when his bases-loaded single plated two runners. D’Arnaud, trying to stretch the single into a double, was tagged out at second base for the final out of the inning thanks to an impressive throw from Toronto catcher Danny Jansen.
NOTES: D’Arnaud was traded from the Blue Jays to the Mets in the deal that brought knuckleballer R.A. Dickey to Toronto in 2012. D’Arnaud missed all but four games last season after having Tommy John surgery in April 2018. … Attendance was 22, 767. … The teams continue their three-game series Saturday and Sunday at Rogers Centre. Toronto will be on the road against Kansas City during the MLB trade deadline next Wednesday.
Melissa Couto, The Canadian Press