The story coming into this game has been the recent offensive explosion by the Rays hitters and the inability of Rays pitchers to go deep into games. And that was the story of this game, too. No, they didn't score more than ten runs. But six runs off three home runs isn't bad at all.
And once more, a Rays starter only completed five innings. But despite four walks and some obvious frustration with his lack of control, Jake Odorizzi left the game having only given up two runs, and a short outing isn't that bad when Erasmo Ramirez is waiting to pick up the slack.
Back and Forth
The Blue Jays seized the lead in the bottom of the second inning. Troy Tulowitzki hit the ball hard, but the Rogers Centre held him, and Kevin Kiermaier made the play at the wall. But one batter later, Jimmy Paredes took Odorizzi to a shorter part of the park in left for a no-doubter home run. It wasn't a terrible pitch. It was actually a bit outside, but Odorizzi didn't get it elevated quite as much as he wanted to, which made the pitch hittable (by a good piece of hitting).
But the Rays' high-octane offense took the lead in the top of the fourth inning. First, fan-favorite slugging first-baseman Logan Morrison attacked a pitch in the bottom third of the zone, and pulled a high fly ball that cleared the wall in right-center and hit off the front of the second deck of seats. One batter later, Desmond Jennings—also a local favorite—jumped on a knuckleball that approximated a 74 mph fastball on in on the hands. That's in DJ's wheelhouse, and he lined it over the wall in left.
After retaking the lead, Odorizzi immediately put it in jeopardy, walking the first two Jays batters in the bottom of the fourth inning. Paredes hit the ball on the ground to Tim Beckham. It was a hard-hit ball, that might have been a possible double play. At the very least, Beckham should have been able to get the runner at second base and keep the double play in order. But Beckham made something of a mental error, and took the out at first instead.
Odorizzi got himself out of the jam, though. The next pitch was hit on the ground softly but directly to a drawn-in Longoria, and the runner at third (wisely) did not try to come home, and the third out of the inning came on an infield popup off an elevated fastball.
Beckham redeemed himself in the next inning when he lead off with a hard line drive over the head of Jose Bautista and to the wall in right. That got him to second base, and he came home when Paredes threw an Evan Longoria chopper past first base and into the dugout, stretching the lead to two.
That run mattered almost immediately, as in the next half-inning Michael Saunders hit a towering home run to right field to bring the Rays lead back to one run at 3-2.
The Rays tacked on to their lead again in the sixth inning when Morrison lead off with a line drive into center field. He was nearly picked off by a great move from Dickey and a quick swipe from Smoak, but got back just ahead of the tag (Jays challenged, safe call was upheld). That left him on base for Kevin Kiermaier, who hit the Rays' third home run of the night (and the first one that wasn't a solo home run).
Erasmo Ramirez came on in the sixth inning with a three-run lead to protect. He was his usual efficient, effective self for two and two-thirds innings until he missed his location and gave up a solo home run to Edwin Encarnacion, and then a double to Justin Smoak. Manager Kevin Cash went to his closer, Alex Colome, in the eighth to put out the fire. Colome did.
The Rays got the run back in the ninth inning on a Tim Beckham almost purely on the legs of Tim Beckham. Beckham grounded up the middle, saw that Pillar was going to have to field the ball going away from the play, and aggressively stretched the hit into a double. Then he moved up to third on a wild pitch, but the catcher, Josh Thole, couldn't find the ball, so Beckham aggressively stretched the wild pitch into a run. Call it an inside-the-park homer with a pause at second base.
Some other notes:
- Watching Logan Morrison's home run made me think that part of his problem early in this season really was about the changes to his mechanics he made before the start of the season. His home run in this game was a no-doubter, and the type of fly ball you expect when a strong man squares up the ball on a big swing. But early on in the season, we were seeing virtually identical swings by Morrison that died without even reaching the warning track. That didn't seem right, and I think it wasn't.
- Logan Morrison had a pretty nice night, with three hits, including his homer. His lone out of the night was also a decently struck ball.
- Troy Tulowitzki was upset when Erasmo Ramirez struck him out looking on a fastball down and in. Tulo was right, I think. The pitch was below his knees. But earlier in the at bat he got a break when he took strike three on the outer edge of the plate and had it called a ball. So I'm not going to commiserate with him too much.
- Earlier, during the Tulo at bat, Marty Foster took a foul ball directly off of his mask. The trainers for both teams checked him out and then talked it over together, but weren't able to convince Foster to come out of the game, despite the fact that he still seemed to be blinking and trying to clear the cobwebs. Umpires are tough guys too. We get that. But I'm not sure Foster was being smart.
- After another half-inning, the two trainers seemed to talk Foster into going back into the dugout to for some further tests, but once more he came back out and resumed his duties behind home plate. I don't know, man. This doesn't seem like a great moment in concussion-danger-awareness.
- Okay, so not to belabor the point, but after Foster got hit, I really think the strike zone went wonky. Balls were called strikes, strikes were called balls, and back-to-back pitches in the same location were called differently. Do the trainers have the authority to take an umpire out over his objections? If not, maybe they should.
- In the seventh inning, the Rays faced Joe Biagini, a Rule-5 draft pick for the Blue Jays. I'd never seen Biagini pitch before, and looking at his minor league numbers, he doesn't look like a sure thing to stick, but I'll say one thing for the 26-year old. He throws one heck of a big 12-6 curve.
- Steven Souza Jr. gets up the line in a hurry. Infield hit for him in the eighth (then he stole second).
- Alex Colome dominated the ninth inning after putting out a fire for the last out of the eighth. It was a strong outing for the four-out save.
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