TORONTO — Waiting two weeks to experience their first loss of the season didn’t make defeat any easier for the Tampa Bay Rays.
The Rays lost their first game following a record-tying 13-0 start as Colin Poche forced in two runs with bases-loaded walks and second baseman Brandon Lowe made a key error in a four-run fifth inning that lifted the Toronto Blue Jays to a 6-3 win.
“Losing always sucks,” Lowe said. “There’s no loss that feels any worse or any better than any other ones. You kind of put them all in the same kind of category, you know? Every win is great. Every loss is terrible.”
George Springer hit a leadoff home run and Bo Bichette had five hits and an RBI as the Blue Jays denied Tampa Bay’s bid to establish Major League Baseball’s post-1900 record for consecutive wins at a season’s start.
“Not much went our way tonight,” Rays manager Kevin Cash said.
Tampa Bay’s 13-0 record matched the 1982 Atlanta Braves and 1987 Milwaukee Brewers, trailing only the 20-0 start by the 1884 St. Louis Maroons of the Union Association.
The Rays went unbeaten in 13 games against Detroit, Washington, Oakland, and Boston. Those four teams are currently in last place in their divisions.
Toronto, the first Rays opponent this season with a winning record, has won eight of 10.
“Guys are excited to play big series,” Toronto manager John Schneider said. “They’re a good team. But we’re solely focussed on winning the series.”
Tampa Bay trailed at the end of an inning just six times entering Friday. Against the Blue Jays they trailed after all nine.
Springer homered on the night’s second pitch from Drew Rasmussen (2-1), who pitched 13 innings in his first two starts. Springer’s 53rd leadoff homer tied Craig Biggio for third, behind Rickey Henderson’s 81 and Alfonso Soriano hit 54.
Bichette had an RBI double in the second for a 2-0 lead and his 500th hit. He reached the mark in his 407th game, 25 games quicker than the previous Blue Jays mark shared by Vernon Wells and Shannon Stewart.
Luke Raley cut the lead in half with an RBI single in the fourth but Poche relieved with the bases loaded in the fifth and walked pinch-hitter Alejando Kirk on four pitches and Santiago Espinal on five.
“One strike in your nine pitches, it’s just not competitive,” Poche said.
Danny Jansen hit a grounder to Wander Franco for a potential inning-ending double play, but second baseman Brandon Lowe allowed the relay to bounce off his glove and into the outfield as two runs scored.
“It kind of got out of hand on us there,” Lowe said
Rasmussen allowed five runs and eight hits in 4 1/3 innings. José Berríos (1-2) gave up one run and four hits in five innings, leaving because of a bruised left knee that got struck twice in his final inning. Manuel Margot’s leadoff liner caromed off Berríos’ left foot and into foul territory. Three batters later, a Yandy Díaz comebacker struck Berríos’ knee.
Schneider said he expects Berríos to make his next start.
Trevor Richards got two outs in the sixth and Zach Pop came on to strike out Isaac Paredes, stranding runners at first and second.
After Yimi García gave up back-to-back homers to Josh Lowe and Christian Bethancourt in the seventh, Erik Swanson worked a scoreless eighth and Jordan Romano finished for his ML-leading fifth save in six chances.
Rays: Cash said LHP Jeffrey Springs will likely land on the injured list after leaving Thursday’s game against Boston two pitches into the fourth inning with what the team said was inflammation of the ulnar nerve.
Blue Jays: 3B Matt Chapman returned after being scratched Thursday because of an illness.
Blue Jays center fielder Kevin Kiermaier faced his former team for the first time and went 2 for 4. The three-time Gold Glove award winner spent the first nine seasons of his career with the Rays.
“It’s weird to see him in a different color blue,” Tampa Bay’s Brandon Lowe said, “but everybody in this clubhouse wishes nothing but the best for him.”
Blue Jays left fielder Daulton Varsho made a leaping catch at the wall on Díaz’s deep drive for the final out of the third
Kiermaier said he rode his bicycle to the ballpark for the first time Friday, a 4 1/2 mile journey from his Toronto home.
“I had an absolute blast,” Kiermaier said.
RHP Calvin Faucher (0-0, 4.50) will open for the Rays Saturday. LHP Yusei Kikuchi (1-0, 6.75) goes for the Blue Jays.