ST. PETERSBURG Steven Wright Jersey , Fla. (AP) — with a new pitching formula.Ryan Yarbrough got his rookie-leading 16th win and the Rays turned another bullpen game into their 90th victory, beating the Toronto Blue Jays 9-4 on Sunday.The Rays (90-72) went to the unconventional plan of using relievers to open games in addition to traditional starters in mid-May because of injuries.The results were about equal, as Tampa Bay went 46-38 with regular starters and 44-34 when utilizing the bullpen, and the trend began to take hold around the majors. But no team did it as often as the Rays.“I don’t think you can really argue with the results we’ve had with it, and not just with me but with other guys too,” Yarbrough said. “For it to work that well was a big blessing, and you never know, if it didn’t work that well, we’d never know where we could be right now.”Ryne Stanek was Tampa Bay’s “opener” for the 29th time and went two scoreless innings. Yarbrough (16-6) followed and gave up two runs and four hits over three innings to get his 14th relief win.Austin Pruitt went the final 3 1/3 innings to pick up his fourth save. He’s gone three or more innings in four of his five career saves.The Rays went 87-60 after losing 12 of their first 15 games.“Hopefully the groundwork has been laid,” Rays manager Kevin Cash said. “The core group that has gotten some opportunities, played at a really high level Tyler Thornburg Jersey , learned how to win together.”Outgoing Blue Jays manager John Gibbons decided to have some fun in the finale and let 35-year-old catcher Russell Martin manage the game.Martin said he “thought about it for a couple seconds” before deciding to keep himself on the bench, declining the opportunity to serve as a player-manager.“It was fun,” Martin said. “Didn’t realize how much went into it. A cool experience. It’s tougher than it looks.”Toronto announced Wednesday that Gibbons will not be back as manager next season.“He’s one of my favorites,” Martin said. “I’m going to miss him. He’s a special guy. He’s kind of like having a second dad.”Over two stints totaling 11 seasons, Gibbons went 793-789 with the Blue Jays.Toronto finished 73-89, a three-game drop from 2017.Tampa Bay improved 10 games from last year and joined the 2012 Rays (90) and 2013 Texas Rangers (91) as the only 90-win teams since the second wild card was introduced in 2012 to miss the postseason.Joey Wendle and Jake Bauers both had two RBIs for the Rays, who went 13-6 against Toronto. Tampa Bay has dominated the series at home, going 111-74.Sam Gaviglio (3-10) allowed five runs and six hits in 5 2/3 innings.SEATS AVAILABLEDespite the strong on-field showing, the Rays’ announced home attendance of 1,154,973 was their lowest since 2005 (1 http://www.redsoxproshops.com/authentic-jackie-bradley-jr-jersey ,141,699). Tampa Bay drew 1,253,619 last season. Sunday’s crowd was 13,313. Only Miami (811,104) drew fewer fans.STAYING THE COURSEThe Rays are happy with the progress of two-way player Brendan McKay at Single-A Charlotte this season and plan to continue the experiment. “Where this ends up going I think we don’t know exactly still, but we’re really encouraged,” Tampa Bay senior vice president of baseball operations Chaim Bloom said.Bloom said McKay, whose season ended prematurely because of an oblique injury, has been working in the instructional league and has gotten back “to where he’s a healthy player.”RAYS’ HOT STREAKSTommy Pham walked in the third to extend his on-base streak to 32 games, the longest active streak in the majors. Johnny Damon holds the team record with 39. … Wendle set a club rookie record by hitting .300. … Mallex Smith stole 40 bases.UP NEXTBlue Jays: Open the 2019 season at home against Detroit on March 28.Rays: Host AL West champion Houston on opening day of 2019. A look at what’s happening around the majors today:ACES ABOUNDJustin Verlander and the World Series champion Houston Astros face Red Sox lefty Chris Sale in a marquee matchup to start the AL Championship Series at Fenway Park.The All-Stars met twice last year in AL Division Series. They started opposite each other in the opener Roger Clemens Jersey , then both worked in relief during the middle innings of Game 4.Verlander (16-9, 2.52 ERA) led the AL with 290 strikeouts and beat Cleveland in the ALDS last week. Sale (12-4, 2.11) started and relieved vs. the Yankees in the ALDS.Also familiar with each other: Red Sox manager Alex Cora and the Astros. He was Houston’s bench coach last year during the team’s run to its first title.MILES AND MILESWade Miley was a journeyman left-hander when he signed a minor league contract with the Brewers at the start of spring training. He injured his oblique early in the season, spent a lot of time in Double-A and hoped he’d have a chance to contribute.Miley came back, delivered and now gets to start Game 2 of the NL Championship Series as the Brewers try to take a 2-0 lead over the Dodgers at Miller Park. Hyun-Jin Ryu pitches for Los Angeles.REMEMBER ME?J.D. Martinez wants to thank the Astros — not get back at them — for releasing him when he was struggling. The Red Sox slugger says his growing pains in Houston taught him “how to fail,” a lesson he credits with transforming him into an MVP candidate who helped Boston win a team-record 108 games.Martinez made his big league debut for Houston in 2011, driving in 28 runs during his first full month in the majors. After playing part time the next two years, he was 26 and batting .167 in the spring of 2014 when the Astros released him, preferring to give the at-bats to top prospect George Springer.Martinez landed with Detroit that season and by 2015 he was an All-Star. He totaled 45 home runs last year with the Tigers and Arizona, then hit .330 with 43 homers and a major league-high 130 RBIs this season.
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