After finishing up the suspended game from Saturday earlier this afternoon, the Rays took the field to play game three of their weekend series in Buffalo against the Blue Jays. Toronto sent right-hander Matt Shoemaker to the hill while the Rays countered with Yonny Chirinos.
Coming off the injured list after dealing with a triceps strain, Chirinos showed some rust in the first inning. Cavan Biggio doubled on a long drive to left field and Randal Grichuk followed that up with a home run to left center field, giving the Blue Jays an initial 2-0 lead. Kiermaier came close to bringing the ball back in play, but as he drifted to the wall and timed his jump, the ball went off his glove and over the wall. Yonny was able to regroup and retire the next three batters, but let a couple base runners sneak on in the second inning. He got out of the jam with a ground ball double play.
Through the first two innings Shoemaker made quick work of the Rays’ bats, retiring all six batters with four strikeouts. In the third inning Kevin Kiermaier got on to lead off the inning with a single but was picked off quickly thereafter. Shoemaker breezed through the inning without further incident.
It looked like Chirinos was getting into a rhythm in the third inning, getting the first two outs on nine pitches. Then Travis Shaw blooped a single to right field and Teoscar Hernandez lined a single to left. That was enough to push Chirinos out of the ball game. Ryan Thompson replaced Chirinos and got Rowdy Tellez to ground out on his first pitch.
Chirinos was able to get through 2 ⅔ innings on 50 pitches, and struck out three batters without walking anyone. It was a promising showing as it pertains to his ability to return to the rotation. He did allow five base hits and two runs, and the Blue Jays were squaring up a couple times, specifically on Grichuk’s home run and Hernandez’s single. All in all it was a productive return for Chirinos.
Shoemaker ran into his first sign of trouble in the fourth inning. After he thought he had Yoshi Tsutsugo struck out on a two strike fastball, Vic Carapazza didn’t give him the call. Two pitches later, Yoshi lifted a three-run home run out to left field and gave the Rays a 3-2 lead.
Go go Tsutsugo in Buffalo pic.twitter.com/tma8QvVmia— Tampa Bay Rays (@RaysBaseball) August 16, 2020
The inning closed with a Willy Adames strikeout, but between innings Matt Shoemaker and Blue Jays’ manager Charlie Montoyo were ejected for arguing balls and strikes. While the pitch looked to be off the inside corner, the no-call seemingly set Shoemaker off and led to his ejection after four innings and 60 pitches.
Vlad Guerrero Jr. went deep to left field off of Ryan Thompson to lead off the bottom half of the fourth inning, tying the game at 3-3. Later in the inning, Anthony Alford hit John Curtiss’ first pitch of the game out to left field for a two-run home run. Curtiss would rebound after, but the Blue Jays held a 5-3 lead.
The Rays grabbed a run in the fifth inning after Austin Meadows hit a sacrifice fly to left field. Reliever Anthony Kay loaded up the bases with two outs, but got a left handed hitting Ji-Man Choi (who seems to have abandoned switch hitting) to ground out to escape the jam. The Blue Jays lead was 5-4.
The Rays propped up another threat in the sixth inning, with runners at first and second with one out. Hunter Renfroe couldn’t capitalize, however, as he grounded into an inning ending double play. The Rays pen held serve and we went to the 7th inning down 5-4.
With AJ Cole on the mound to close out the game for the Blue Jays, the Rays threatened once more. Austin Meadows got on with a one-out single, and Brandon Lowe nearly rocked a home run to right field, but he didn’t catch it on the barrel and it died at the warning track. Down to their final out, Teoscar Hernandez fumbled what would have been a routine single, which allowed Meadows to come all the way around and across the plate easily with the tying run.
*Chris Berman voice*— Tampa Bay Rays (@RaysBaseball) August 16, 2020
Loup got through the bottom of the seventh unscathed and we went to “extras”; that is, the eighth inning.
After Manuel Margot advanced the opening base runner (Choi) to third on a ground out, Willy launched a massive 425 foot home run to right center field off of Wilmer Font.
In the bottom of the eighth, the Rays closed out the 7-5 victory behind a 1-2-3 inning from Aaron Slegers.
With the 3-2 victory in the suspended game earlier today and the 7-5 victory in the late afternoon game, the Rays leave Buffalo with a 14-9 record and sole possession of second place in the AL East. After a day off tomorrow the Rays head to New York for a huge three game set with the division leading Yankees.