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Blue Jays overcome bullpen troubles to split mini series with Rays

It was picture day at the old ball yard for the Toronto Blue Jays on Wednesday – but it was far from picture perfect for Ezequiel Carrera.

The players were all busy before their game against the Tampa Bay Rays at Rogers Centre – Carrera included – getting all gussied up in their freshly laundered white uniforms in the clubhouse.

The season may yet be on the wane for this outfit, but God forbid you don't look your best for the photo op.

As the players started to bolt for the field where the group shot would be taken, it was only then that Carrera stuck out like a sore thumb.

Make that a sore foot.

Carrera was on crutches, unable to walk without assistance after breaking a bone the night before in the game against the Rays, when he bashed a foul ball off his right foot in the fifth inning.

When he finally made it out to the field to join his mates on the makeshift picture stage, he wasn't even afforded a front seat out of deference to his condition. He was unceremoniously wedged into the third row, where he had to stand, his crutches hidden from view.

"The least you could do is let him sit down" was the wry remark from one Blue Jays official who was looking on.

And on it goes for the Blue Jays, where even the subs are starting to get struck down.

A utility outfielder, Carrera became the 17th Blue Jays player to be lodged on the 10-day disabled list this season, which isn't even at the official midway point yet.

It has gotten to the point where Toronto manager John Gibbons is getting punchy having to field so many medical inquiries about his wounded warriors.

The only upside to the story is that Steve Pearce, the player Carrera was filling in for in left field, is expected to be back with the team as early as this weekend, when Toronto plays host to the Chicago White Sox.

Pearce has been out since May 15 recuperating from a right calf strain.

The Blue Jays recalled rookie Dwight Smith from their Triple-A affiliate in Buffalo for the third time this season to fill in, and he got the start in left field against the Rays.

Smith recorded three hits in the contest, and the Blue Jays would go on to record a satisfying 7-6 comeback victory over the Rays to give Toronto a 1-1 split in the two-game series against its American League East rival.

Catcher Russell Martin hit the decisive blow, a solo home run shot off reliever Jose Alvarado, to lead off the bottom of the eighth inning, his sixth of the year.

After trailing 2-0 and 3-1, the Blue Jays worked a four-run fifth inning to their advantage, the key blow a three-run home run blow by Kendrys Morales to right field off Tampa Bay starter Jake Odorizzi.

That vaulted Toronto in front 5-3.

Toronto would extend its lead to 6-3 when Martin scored on a wild pitch in the sixth.

But the lead was squandered by the bullpen when Joe Smith, who has been great all season, came on in the top of the eighth and was rocked for three runs – a two-run homer by Logan Morrison and a sacrifice fly by Derek Norris that knotted things up.

Martin's home run helped sooth the angst Smith was feeling about the blown save while at the same time making him the winner, raising his record to 3-0 on the year.

"You give up a lead, one of our pitchers has been throwing the ball extremely well – Smitty – I felt like I picked him up right there," Martin said about his winning blow. "I felt like the team at that moment needed that."

The bullpen blowup overshadowed a good outing by Toronto starter Francisco Liriano, who logged seven innings, his longest of the year, allowing three Tampa Bay runs (two earned) off five hits while striking out nine.

Roberto Osuna came on in the ninth to retire the side in order and record the save, his 17th of the season.

Gibbons said he was as surprised as anyone to learn Wednesday morning that Carrera's foot was broken. He knew he'd hurt it somewhat during the game but did not think anything more of it when Carrera was able to continue playing.

Even Carrera was caught off guard by the severity, especially after X-rays after the game indicated all was clear.

But when he could not stand on the foot the following morning, he knew something was amiss and alerted the beleaguered Blue Jays medical team. A CT scan was ordered, and it revealed a bone fracture.

Carrera said he is going to see a foot specialist and has no clear indication how long he might be sidelined.

"It's just one of those things we cannot control," the Venezuelan-born Carrera said before the game through an interpreter. "You get hurt. Things happen like that because we play hard and we try to make every play out there."

Shy by nature, the events of the last 24 hours made it even easier for Carrera to maintain his perpetual poker face for the team picture.

"Even if I was healthy I wouldn't smile," he said. "I don't smile at all when I take pictures. That's just me."

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