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Rays 5, Blue Jays 4: Josh Fleming gets the win in his Major League debut

The Rays scored just enough runs to get the win while the rookie left-hander threw five solid innings in his debut.

Toronto Blue Jays v Tampa Bay Rays Photo by Mike Carlson/Getty Images

The Rays and Blue Jays faced off in the third game of this unique four-game Friday-to-Monday series. Trent Thornton started for the Blue Jays while Josh Fleming took the mound for the Rays, making his Major League debut after pitching between Double-A Montgomery and Triple-A Durham last season.

Fleming looked great in his first inning of Major League work, striking out Cavan Biggio to get his outing started.

Fleming’s impressive first inning didn’t end there, however, as he struck out Vlad Jr to end the inning.

The Rays threatened in the bottom-half of the first when Yandy Diaz singled and Ji-Man Choi doubled to put two runners in scoring position, but Yoshi Tsutsugo grounded out to end the inning.

For the Blue Jays, Thornton pitched the whole first inning before exiting with an apparent elbow injury. Anthony Kay relieved Thornton after the first inning.

Teoscar Hernandez led off the top of the second with a home run to left field, putting Toronto on the board, 1-0. In the top of the fourth, Vlad Jr hit a one-out triple and was driven home by Travis Shaw with a single, making it a 2-0 game.

Those two runs would be the only runs allowed by Fleming, who pitched a very solid game in his Major League debut. Fleming threw 72 pitches over five innings of work, striking three Blue Jays out while walking two and allowing four hits.

The Rays threatened in the bottom of the fifth after Joey Wendle hit a leadoff single and Willy Adames walked behind him. Ryan Borucki was brought in to relieve Kay and got the first out of the inning, bringing up pinch-hitter Jose Martinez who hit a single to right to score Wendle.

Adames moved up to third on the play and was brought home with a sacrifice fly by Austin Meadows to tie this game at 2-2. On the sacrifice fly, Jose Martinez advanced to second. Brandon Lowe brought Martinez home with a single up the middle, giving the Rays a 3-2 lead. Ji-Man Choi flew out to end the inning.

Pete Fairbanks entered the game to pitch the top of the sixth for the Rays, and although he walked two batters, he recorded a big strikeout to end the inning without allowing a run. During Fairbanks’ outing, Kevin Cash was ejected for arguing a check swing that should’ve been called a strike but was not.

Aaron Loup pitched the top of the seventh, allowing a two-out double to Cavan Biggio. Diego Castillo was brought in to get the last out of the inning and did just that, preserving the lead going into the bottom of the seventh.

Kevin Kiermaier started the inning with an infield single and stole second base with Austin Meadows at the plate. Meadows hit a one-out single to score Kiermaier, extending the lead to 4-2. Brandon Lowe drew a walk to put two runners on, causing Toronto to bring in Sam Gaviglio.

Gaviglio walked Yandy Diaz to load the bases for Ji-Man Choi who hit a sacrifice fly to score Meadows and give the Rays a 5-2 lead. Yoshi flew out to end the inning and Diego Castillo stayed in to pitch the top of the eighth. Castillo walked the first batter and allowed a one-out, two-run home run to Lourdes Gurriel Jr, closing the lead down to only one.

John Curtiss was brought in after the home run and recorded the final two outs in the inning. Willy Adames doubled in the bottom of the eighth but was stranded at second. Curtiss stayed in to try and get the save for the Rays and he did just that, retiring the Blue Jays in order and securing the second win of the series.

Curtiss became the eighth Rays pitched to record a save this season, while Josh Fleming picked up his first big league win in his first start.

The Rays did their jobs today by grabbing at the minimum a series split, and they will look to complete the series win tomorrow afternoon. Tanner Roark will take the mound for Toronto while Blake Snell will start for the Rays with first pitch scheduled for 3:10 pm.