The Tampa Bay Rays looked to continue their winning ways in Toronto Wednesday night, as they faced the Blue Jays seeking to win their first series north of the border this season. The Rays (5 - 4) clinched a winning road trip with their victory against the Jays (5 - 4) Tuesday, but faced a tough challenge in Toronto's veteran starting pitcher Mark Buehrle, who has had the Rays number in recent seasons. What looked like a complete throw away game early saw the Rays show some late life but fall short, dropping the third game in the series 12-7.
Tampa Bay took the field behind Erasmo Ramirez, coming off of his last appearance in which he lasted all of two innings and gave up seven earned runs on six hits and three walks. His struggles would continue on Wednesday night as the Blue Jays hung five runs on him in the first two innings. Ramirez was erratic at times, missing his spots regularly, including a fastball out over the middle of the plate to the slugging Jose Bautista, who promptly deposited the 3-1 pitch over the left field wall, plating Josh Donaldson who reached on a ground ball single that beat the shift the Rays employed, giving the Jays a 2-0 lead.
The second inning saw Ramirez load the bases with one out on a walk, a single that beat the shift, and a bunt single. Jose Reyes hit a short hopper to Longoria who couldn't make the play and the deficit went to 3-0. Donaldson plated another two runs on a ground ball up the middle and into centerfield. Ramirez would get two strikeouts, including one on Bautista, to end the inning, but would continue to struggle into the third, allowing three doubles in the inning, two of which plated runs, making it a 7-0 ball game.
Ramirez's night ended after getting Edwin Encarnacion to pop out to right field, leaving two men on base. His final line was 3.1 IP, 9R, 7ER, 3BB, 4K. Jeff Beliveau entered in relief, getting the second out of the inning, then giving up a two RBI single to Justin Smoak, growing the Rays deficit to nine runs and adding the final two to Ramirez's stat line.
The Rays tried to mount a comeback in the top half of the fourth, loading the bases on three singles Desmond Jennings, Logan Forsythe, and Kevin Kiermaier. That opportunity was short lived as Rene Rivera's woes at the plate continued, grounding into a double play to retire the side.
Steven Souza put the Rays on the board with a home run in the fifth inning.
The following inning, Beliveau allowed a one out homer to Devon Travis, giving the Jays a ten spot. Toronto third baseman Josh Donaldson would follow with an RBI double, giving the Jays an 11-1 lead before the frame ended.
Mark Buehrle continued his career excellence against the Rays. His stuff has never been overpowering, but his ability to locate his pitches and keep batters guessing has allowed him to enjoy extended success. Buehrle, who threw a perfect game against Tampa Bay, worked six innings, giving up three earned runs, all via the long ball, en route to his second win of the season.
Meanwhile: Welcome to the show, Mikie Mahtook!
The rookie pinch hit for Kevin Kiermaier in the sixth inning and teed off on Buehrle, his first major league home run on his first major league hit. The 398-foot blast plated two runs and made the score 11-3. He got the silent treatment, but the players couldn't resist congratulating him for long.
Kevin Pillar made a stellar grab to rob Tim Beckham in a highlight reel we should be seeing all season long. Hechanneled his inner Spiderman, climbing the wall in left. After seeing his own replay on the big board, he appeared to have even impressed himself.
Dalton Pompey then hit a solo dinger in the bottom of the seventh, making the score 12-3. Here's that defensive play:
The Rays wouldn't recover, but they went down fighting and swinging the rest of the way through, loading the bases in the top of ninth with one man out and eventually sending nine men to plate in the inning.
Steven Souza again showed off his power, driving rocket of a shot to the left-centerfield wall, missing a grand slam by mere inches. The double drove home two runs, making the score 12-5. Asdrubal Cabrera then hit a ground ball out to shortstop, scoring the runner at third to make it a 12-6 ballgame.
Colt Hynes walked Allan Dykstra then gave up a single to the pinch hitting Bobby Wilson. Souza scored from second, bringing the Rays to within five runs with two on and two out. Hynes night ended there, as Blue Jays manager John Gibbons turned to Brett Cecil to finally put the game away, striking out Logan Forsythe to end the night.
My Two Cents:
- Jennings essentially pulled off the ol' 8-6 ground out. Pretty routine stuff.
- Another replay call results in a tough break for the Rays, but Jennings's indecision on an admittedly tough-to-read pop fly put them in that position. In the end the call was tough, but looked correct, definitely not enough evidence to overturn in any case.
- The Blue Jays beat the shift twice early in the game, both times leading to runs scored for the Blue Jays. Let the argument over the shift continue, but the real problem tonight was Ramirez's lack of effectiveness.
- On any other night, a pitcher struggling that mightily in the first two innings would have gotten the mercy hook, but with the rotation needing time to heal and the bullpen getting well used of late, Ramirez had to sleep in the bed he made.
- Rivera looked a little off his game both at the plate and behind it, allowing two passed balls that were called strikes, one of which allowed two runners to advance to second and third. He did, however, show off his cannon arm again early, gunning down Jose Reyes on a bunt attempt.
- Steven Souza now has home runs in back to back games.
- Glad to see Mikie Mahtook all smiles through his traditional silent treatment in the Rays dugout following his first career home run. Great job, rookie!
- Dwayne Staats used the adjective "Vesuvian" to describe Pompey's home run. I see what you did there, Dwayne. Well played.
- Lots of bad at bats throughout the Rays lineup tonight. Not many hitters counts at all, which has been uncharacteristic of the Rays lately.
- Finally, the greatest of hat-tips to Jackie Robinson as we celebrate Jackie Robinson Day and his legacy, paving the way for so many to enjoy the game so fine, it's played on diamonds. Thanks, Jackie.
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