The last time he pitched, Ramon Ortiz picked up his first victory as a starter in more than six years. Now he has a chance for his second in six days.
Ortiz will take the ball for the Blue Jays on Tuesday night as they play the second of a three-game series against the Rays at Rogers Centre. Alex Cobb will go for Tampa Bay, which dropped Monday's opener but has still won nine of 12.
There have not been too many surprises of the positive variety for the last-place Blue Jays this year, but Ortiz has been one of them. The 39-year-old right-hander, in the big leagues for the first time since 2011, has held the opposition to two runs on 10 hits in 12 innings over two starts after beginning the year at Triple-A Buffalo.
On Wednesday against the Giants, he notched his first win as a starter since April 22, 2007, when he was a member of the Twins. That was also the last year in which he started more than two games at the highest level.
"He probably never envisioned that he was going to be in this situation where he was going to be making starts in the big leagues again," Blue Jays manager John Gibbons said. "Now he's getting it, and he's taking advantage of it."
Ortiz said afterward that he was feeling confident in using all of his pitches in any count. At the same time, he will most likely have to improve his underlying numbers if he is going to continue to succeed. In those two starts, he walked six while striking out two.
Strikeouts were no problem for Cobb on May 10, when he collected 13 against the Padres but gave up three runs in only 4 2/3 innings, tossing 117 pitches. On Thursday, the 25-year-old righty regained his efficiency by using 92 pitches to hold the Red Sox to one run on three hits over 6 1/3 innings, with six strikeouts.
Cobb has produced six quality starts in eight tries and leads the Rays by averaging 6 2/3 innings per outing. He said he was pleased with the adjustments he had made.
"Actually the Red Sox were a little more aggressive than I thought they would be," Cobb said. "So it was kind of an in-game adjustment. I saw that pretty quickly throughout the first couple of innings.
"This is the same type of team. It could be either way. I think that with my walk rates being kind of low, teams are being kind of aggressive on me right now. That's just something I'm going to have to feel out in the first couple of innings and make adjustments as soon as possible."
Rays: Longoria firing on all cylinders
• Third baseman Evan Longoria went 2-for-4 with a double and two RBIs on Monday, extending his career-high hitting streak to 14 games. In 22 games since April 26, he is batting .389 with 11 doubles, a triple, four homers and 18 RBIs.
Combine that with his typically stellar defense, and Longoria has found a new level.
"It's the best baseball I've seen him play day in and day out, offensively and defensively," manager Joe Maddon said. "Everything about his game has been superb, and it's been fun to watch."
• Reliever Josh Lueke took the loss Monday, surrendering three runs on one hit and four walks in two-thirds of an inning. The right-hander had strung together four straight scoreless appearances since his season debut May 10, issuing one free pass in 3 2/3 innings.
Blue Jays: Gose makes season debut
Outfielder Anthony Gose was recalled from Triple-A Buffalo on Monday and made it into the game as a defensive replacement for Melky Cabrera in left field, going 0-for-1 at the plate. The speedy 22-year-old hit .223 in 189 plate appearances for Toronto last season and was hitting .227 this season for Buffalo.
Despite a recent slump and the lack of an opportunity for consistent starts, Gose is back in the big leagues. Gibbons plans to take advantage of his strengths.
"He'll help us in different ways," Gibbons said. "He's a defensive specialist. He'll steal you a base, great baserunner. He's been here before, and we like him."
Gose has racked up 233 stolen bases in 551 Minor League games, including 70 at Double-A New Hampshire in 2011. He also stole 15 in 56 big league games last year. This season, he has only five but said that was due more to playing for a potent offense on a good team.
"I was batting two-hole," Gose said. "We've got guys in front of me batting .490, you know .380, .340 behind me, so there was no real dire need to really steal any bases early on in the season."
• Cobb has never pitched at Rogers Centre. He made his only career appearance against the Blue Jays last August, giving up one run over seven innings.
• Cobb owns a 4.74 ERA in three road starts this year, and his career ERA is nearly a run higher away from Tropicana Field.