Tampa Bay’s plan to use an opener was derailed by recent heavy bullpen use.

Yonny Chirinos showed that fill-in starters, even on a pitch count, can be an excellent replacement.

Chirinos was pulled after five no-hit innings and the Rays went on to beat the Toronto Blue Jays 8-3 on Monday.

Tampa Bay Rays center fielder Kevin Kiermaier makes a leaping catch on a flyout by Toronto Blue Jays' Rowdy Tellez during the fourth inning of a baseball game Monday, May 27, 2019, in St. Petersburg, Fla. (AP Photo/Chris O'Meara)
Tampa Bay Rays center fielder Kevin Kiermaier makes a leaping catch on a flyout by Toronto Blue Jays’ Rowdy Tellez during the fourth inning of a baseball game Monday, May 27, 2019, in St. Petersburg, Fla. (AP Photo/Chris O’Meara)

“It wasn’t (hard) at all,” Rays manager Kevin Cash said of taking Chirinos out. “We’re going to prioritize the guy’s health and be responsible with them.”

Chirinos (6-1) made his 11th appearance and fifth start this season. Oliver Drake relieved to begin the sixth and gave up a leadoff single to Luke Maile.

“I don’t even think I knew he had a no-hitter until the fans starting booing after Drake gave up a hit,” Cash said.

Toronto Blue Jays manager Charlie Montoyo waves to the Tampa Bay Rays dugout during the first inning of a baseball game Monday, May 27, 2019, in St. Petersburg, Fla. Montoya was a coach in the Rays organization. (AP Photo/Chris O'Meara)
Toronto Blue Jays manager Charlie Montoyo waves to the Tampa Bay Rays dugout during the first inning of a baseball game Monday, May 27, 2019, in St. Petersburg, Fla. Montoya was a coach in the Rays organization. (AP Photo/Chris O’Meara)

In addition to his starts, Chirinos sometimes comes in after an opener and is averaging five innings an outing. He struck out seven and walked two during a 69-pitch outing, one short of his projected limit.

“I’ve always been most comfortable as a starter,” Chirinos said through a translator. “But this team has confidence in me to come in the (reliever) role and I’ve just got to prepare accordingly.”

Five Rays relievers completed a four-hitter.

Members of the United States Special Operations Comman rappel team bring the American flag and the POW-MIA flag from the catwalk before a baseball game between the Tampa Bay Rays and the Toronto Blue Jays, Monday, May 27, 2019, in St. Petersburg, Fla. (AP Photo/Chris O'Meara)
Members of the United States Special Operations Comman rappel team bring the American flag and the POW-MIA flag from the catwalk before a baseball game between the Tampa Bay Rays and the Toronto Blue Jays, Monday, May 27, 2019, in St. Petersburg, Fla. (AP Photo/Chris O’Meara)

Austin Meadows homered and drove in three runs for the Rays, who remain two games behind the AL East-leading New York Yankees despite going a season-high 13 games over .500.

Aaron Sanchez (4-4) gave up one run and six hits before leaving after the third inning because of a problem on the fingernail on his right middle finger. The oft-injured right-hander left his start on May 17 in the fourth inning with a right middle finger blister.

“Hopefully it’s nothing too serious,” Sanchez said. “Obviously it affected me today. I couldn’t really grip the ball, but I don’t think it’s going to be anything big.”

Tampa Bay Rays' Ji-Man Choi tries to catch his breath after he hit an RBI single off Toronto Blue Jays pitcher Jacob Waguespack and then scored on a throwing error by catcher Luke Maile during the fourth inning of a baseball game Monday, May 27, 2019, in St. Petersburg, Fla. (AP Photo/Chris O'Meara)
Tampa Bay Rays’ Ji-Man Choi tries to catch his breath after he hit an RBI single off Toronto Blue Jays pitcher Jacob Waguespack and then scored on a throwing error by catcher Luke Maile during the fourth inning of a baseball game Monday, May 27, 2019, in St. Petersburg, Fla. (AP Photo/Chris O’Meara)

Jonathan Davis hit his first major league homer that got the Blue Jays within 4-2 in the seventh.

Toronto, which has lost 19 of 26, also got a ninth-inning solo homer by Freddy Galvis.

Meadows, who had three hits, had an RBI single in the second and added a two-run homer during a four-run eighth. He has seven hits over his last two games.

Jacob Waguespack made his major league debut after replacing Sanchez and allowed Tommy Pham’s RBI double and Ji-Man Choi’s run-scoring single during a three-run fourth that made it 4-0.

Choi circled the bases on his hit after catcher Maile’s attempt to throw him out trying to advance to second sailed into center field.

Waguespack allowed three runs, three hits and struck out seven in four innings. Plans to have him finish the game were shelved because of shoulder stiffness.

Charlie Montoyo, who was on Cash’s coaching staff the previous four seasons, returned to Tropicana Field for the first time as Blue Jays manager.

TRAINER’S ROOM

Blue Jays: Rookie Cavan Biggio is among those impacted by a flu bug working its way around clubhouse and was the DH. 1B Justin Smoak is also ill.

Rays: RHP Tyler Glasnow, 6-1 before straining his right forearm earlier this month, admits he was “frustrated” when moved from the 10- to 60-day IL Sunday. He resumed playing catch but now is not eligible to return until July 10. … C Mike Zunino (strained left quadriceps) is nearing a rehab assignment. … INF Joey Wendle (broken right wrist) is hitting off a tee and playing catch at 90 feet.

GOLD GLOVE

Rays CF Kevin Kiermaier took an extra-base hit away from Rowdy Tellez with a leaping catch into the wall in the fourth.

“Another day at the office,” Cash said. “You get spoiled because if it stays in the park you think he’s going to catch it.”

MINOR MATTERS

Rays two-way prospect Brendan McKay is scheduled to make his first pitching start with Triple-A Durham Tuesday night. The lefty went 3-0, striking out 62 and walking nine, over 41 2/3 innings with Double-A Montgomery. He struggled offensively, hitting .167 (13 for 78).

UP NEXT

Blue Jays LHP Clayton Richard (0-0) will make his second start since returning from a knee injury against Tampa Bay opener Ryne Stanek (0-1) Tuesday night.

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