Hey, that was fun!
We got some of the band back together with the return of Loney and Smyly, and rode a wave of homers from Loney, Rivera and TBex to victory.
Drew Smyly looked sharp early, keeping the Blue Jays flummoxed and hitless until the 4th inning when the Pride of West Palm Beach, Devon Travis, launched a deep fly ball just inside the left field foul pole and over the fence for a solo homer. A series of singles from Josh Donaldson, Edwin Incarnation and Danny Valencia resulted in another run to put the Jays up 2-0.
The Rays would have their own 4th inning party though, as Evan Longoria doubled and James Loney hit a two run homer to right to tie it up 2-2. Even walk-off hero, Rene Rivera, got in on the action with his own two run homer to deep center to send himself and Logan Forsythe to the plate. 4-2 Rays.
Smyly was pulled for Jose Dominguez with two outs in the 5th inning after 79 pitches. Kevin Cash reportedly had him on a 75 pitch limit, and wasn't willing to stretch it enough to let Smyly get the last out he needed to record the win.
The Rays threw another offense party in the 5th. After Brandon Guyer was hit with a pitch, Asdrubal Cabrera sent him home with a triple to left center. 5-2 Rays. Evan Longoria got in on the action with a sac fly to score Cabrera... his first RBI in 12 games. 6-2 Rays.
Loney doubled and Jennings singled to keep the momentum going. Logan Forsythe grounded into what looked like a surefire double play, but hustled his way to first to beat out the throw as Loney crossed the plate for another Rays run. 7-2.
My favorite play of the game happened next. Kevin Kiermaier hit a fly ball to left center that looked like an easy out until Steve Tolleson and Dalton Pompey both tried to field it, ran into each other, and caused the ball to pop out of Tolleson's glove and roll towards the warning track. Those beautiful KK eyes were focused on home plate the whole time, as he was rounding third base and hustling home by the time the ball was gathered up and thrown in. The two run error on Tolleson put the Rays up 9-2.
Jose Dominguez had a nice sixth, striking out Devon Travis and Josh Donaldson before walking Encarnacion and grounding Danny Valencia into a force out at second.
Matt Andriese was on the bump next, and gave the Rays a solid three innings, Justin Smoak garbage time homer aside. He made a sweet catch on a Donaldson line drive comebacker just before that homer and was probably busy counting his lucky stars during the pitch.
R.A. Dickey wasn't the only Blue Jays pitcher the Rays beat up on. Jeff Francis took a beating in the 7th as a Jennings ground-rule double and Kiermaier single put the Rays up 10-2, and a Tim Beckham homer to left center pushed that lead to double digits, 12-2.
Seriously, is there anything more enjoyable than a TBex home run? We've groaned about this kid and that draft for so long, it's incredibly satisfying to see him shine early at the big league level.
The final score was 12-3, after the aforementioned Smoak home run in the 9th. For years, the Rays seemed to live or die by what Evan Longoria did. It's nice seeing the other guys step up now when he struggles. It may not feel like it all the time, but we've got some bats on this club.
The win puts the Rays back over .500. With a 9-8 record, the Rays are only a game back from the Yankees & bad guys for the AL East lead.