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Rays 7, Blue Jays 4: Homers and Souza’s Defense Lead Rays To Victory

Homers by Dickerson, Longoria, Morrison, and Norris lead the offense. Souza’s glove carries the defense.

MLB: Tampa Bay Rays at Toronto Blue Jays Nick Turchiaro-USA TODAY Sports

The Rays bats worked Marcus Stroman’s pitch count, but couldn’t put together much else. Stroman already has two nine inning outings to his credit this year. He threw 7.1 innings allowing only four singles, one homer, two runs and two walks while striking out ten.

The Rays were able to string something to together to limp out in front in the second inning. After two strike outs to start the inning Tim Beckham worked a walk after falling behind the count 0-2. Shane Peterson followed with a grounder that worked its way to center field to put runners on first and third with two outs for Derek Norris. Norris hasn’t had the luck dragons on his side with balls in play this year, but he hit a weak liner that just got over Ryan Goins glove at third to drive in the first run of the game.

The rest of the game was smooth sailing for Stroman. He ran up a pitch count higher than he his accustomed to, but there were plenty of ground balls. He added a lot of strikeouts. Until the seventh inning he only needed an outfield to run down grounders that got through the infield. In the seventh Shane Peterson hit a medium depth fly ball to left field for the first fly ball out besides the foul ball caught by the first baseman in the first inning. Derek Norris followed with a drive to center that Kevin Pillar caught as he approached the warning track.

Blake Snell was wild, but effective for most of his outing. He had a lot of help by his defense. He should send a gift basket to Steven Souza, Jr. for attempting to save all the defensive runs in one game.

In the first Souza dove to catch a liner that wasn’t hit very hard, but wasn’t directly at him.

In the third inning just missed a weak fly ball that wasn’t hit hard enough to get high enough or deep enough to get to Souza. Souza just missed his second diving catch of the day. Souza received another chance as he chased down a fly ball hit by Jose Bautista in the gap, but had enough air under it that Souza made the catch before crashing into the wall. Runners stayed at first and second. Kendrys Morales scorched a line drive directly at Kevin Kiermaier for the second out. The Rays kept the 1-0 lead as Justin Smoak grounded out to end the inning.

In the fourth inning Souza came up with his second diving catch on a line drive hit by Devon Travis.

In the fifth inning Kevin Pillar got the inning started off with a liner that one hopped against the left field wall for a double. Darwin Barney pushed across the tying run by grounding an inside pitch down the line past a diving Logan Morrison. Jose Bautista followed by a hitting a ground ball through the shift to put runners on first and third. Kendrys Morales grounded into a double play, but the runner scored to put the Blue Jays up 2-1.

The red hot Austin Pruitt came into the game to start the sixth. He worked a clean sixth before Kevin Pillar led off the seventh with a line drive homer that just stayed fair to put the Blue Jays up 3-1.

Corey Dickerson showed impressive opposite field power crushing a homer to left center field to bring the Rays back within one to lead off the eighth inning. Kevin Kiermaier struck out to end Marcus Stroman’s evening.

Jason Grilli came in to relieve Stroman and Evan Longoria came up with a massive homer to dead center field to tie the game. Brad Miller followed with a walk in an extended count. Steven Souza, Jr. struck out looking on a spinning breaking ball that was up and in on a 3-2 count. Dominic Leone came in to attempt to keep the game tied. However, Logan Morrison was having none of it. He succeeded in his attempt to send the ball back to the United States with a massive bomb. It ended with a high quality bat drop that let you know if was gone the second it was struck. The third homer of the inning put the Rays up 5-3. Tim Beckham attempted to hit number four, but came up just short with an opposite field triple off the wall.

The Durham Bulls celebrated by posting a reenactment of the top of the eighth put on by the Rays.

The mammoth shot by Logan Morrison by the numbers.

Austin Pruitt put up another impressive outing by going three innings while only allowing the run on the homer to Pillar.

The bottom of the eighth got dicey after Ezequiel Carrera hit an infield single. Devon Travis hit a grounder too weakly to Evan Longoria to turn two that put Carrera at second with two outs. Luke Maile hit a grounder to Tim Beckham that he fumbled allowing Maile to reach first. Beckham tried to make up for the play by throwing to third behind Carrera, but the ball got away from Longoria. Fortunately for the Rays the ball didn’t get far enough away to score. Pruitt got out of the inning by allowing a fly ball to left field.

To lead off the ninth inning Derek Norris got his with a homer to left field to put the Rays up 6-3. Nice to see something good happen for Norris after his rough start to the seasonand just missing one to dead center in his last at bat. Corey Dickerson followed with a liner that one hopped against the wall for a double to end Domonic Leone’s night.

J.P. Howell came in to face Kevin Kiermaier. Kiermaier hit a medium speed ground ball right at Devon Travis who boots it for his second error of the game, both coming on Kiermaier balls in play. An 0-2 wild pitch scores Dickerson from third and sends Kiermaier to second. Rays up 7-3. Longoria hits a grounder to third base where Kiermaier just runs right up to for the first out of the inning. Brad Miller hit a sharp grounder to second for a double play to end the inning.

Rays don’t go to Alex Colome, but they do bring in Jumbo Diaz to close out the game in the ninth up four. Kevin Pillar kicks off the ninth with an opposite field double in the gap. His fifth time on base for the game. Chris Coghlan followed with a flair into center for a single. Jose Bautista hit a medium depth fly ball that caused the crowd to go nuts that scored Pillar from third. Chase Whitley came in to relieve Diaz. After Kendrys Morales popped up to third base Coghlan was allowed to take second and third. Whitley struck out Justin Smoak to end the game and pick up the save. It’s the first save of his career.

Important Game Notes:

Steven Souza, Jr. put on one of the best defensive games I’ve seen. Three high quality plays including two diving. Barely missed a third diving catch. He just barely missed gunning down a runner at second base on a ball that one hopped against the wall.

The Rays bats weren’t able to do a lot, but they were able to work up Marcus Stroman’s pitch counts in the early innings. Once Stroman left the game the flood gates opened.

The Rays hit three homers in the eighth inning. Homers were hit by Corey Dickerson, Evan Longoria, and Logan Morrison. It was the first time in team history that they hit three homers in the eighth inning or later.

Austin Pruitt continues his strong run. He did allow the homer to Kevin Pillar, but he only allowed three hits and one run over three innings to keep the Rays in the game. It has been a remarkable turn around from how his season started.