TORONTO — After giving up a solo home run and loading the bases in the third inning, Thomas Pannone’s outing seemed to be heading toward disaster.
But the Toronto Blue Jays‘ rookie pitcher buckled down and escaped the inning en route to matching a career-high with 108 pitches thrown over 6 2/3 innings and helping the club to a 5-2 win over the Tampa Bay Rays on Saturday night.
After getting the first two hitters to ground out in the third, Pannone surrendered the game’s first run on blast by Tommy Pham. The left-hander proceeded to walk the bases loaded before getting Willy Adames swinging to end the threat.
The 24-year-old retired the next 11 in order before Jesus Sucre cut the Blue Jays lead to 3-2 in the seventh.
"Just really needed to slow the game back down for me," Pannone said of his approach after the Pham home run.
"I kind of sped up and lost a little bit of feel and then got right back to it. When Pete (Walker) came out, took a deep breath and went right back to it. Stayed focused and got back to it."
Pannone (4-1) allowed two earned runs on six hits while striking out five and walking three. He is now 3-0 with a 1.80 ERA in three home starts.
"The kid has got some guts, some confidence, too. I don’t think you can rattle him. He showed us that," said Blue Jays manager John Gibbons. "That’s the ball game right there, if he can’t pull it back in and get a big out."
Rays manager Kevin Cash was also complimentary of Pannone’s outing.
"The guys kept coming in and saying out of his hand it looked like it was going to be below the zone but it stayed kind of true," he said.
"Once he got to two strikes, he was able to elevate some pitches to get some soft contact. He really threw a good ballgame for them."
Rowdy Tellez hit a two-run home run in the fourth inning and drove home another run in the eighth on a double to right field as the Blue Jays (71-84) won for the sixth time in eight outings and improved to 4-5 at home against the Rays this season.
Tellez finished the night 3 for 4 with three RBI in the win.
"Just getting pitches out over the plate and something I can handle, put a good swing on, staying with my approach, staying in the situation," Tellez said of his success.
"Just trying to be the best hitter I can be right now, do everything I can to try to help the team."
Ken Giles pitched a scoreless ninth inning for his 24th save of the season.
Tyler Glasnow (2-7) surrendered three earned on six hits in six innings of work while striking out six and walking two for the Rays (86-68), who entered Saturday’s action 6 1/2 games behind Oakland in the race for the American League’s second wild-card spot. The loss drops Tampa Bay to 15-5 in September.
Trailing 1-0, Tellez responded for the Blue Jays in the fourth putting Glasnow’s 3-1 pitch into the seats over the right-field wall for a two-run home run, his third of the season. With the hit, Tellez set a franchise record for the most extra-base hits (12) through his first 16 big league games.
Two batters later, Reese McGuire doubled to right field scoring Kevin Pillar from first to give Toronto a 3-1 lead.
Tellez added to the Blue Jays lead in the eighth with a double to plate Randal Grichuk. Aledmys Diaz followed up with an RBI single, scoring Anthony Alford who was pinch-running for Tellez giving the Blue Jays a 5-2 lead.