The Tampa Bay Rays extended their win streak to 11 games after completing their sweep of the Toronto Blue Jays in a 14-8 victory Monday afternoon. The number 11 also represents the number of innings it took to complete the game, number of Rays players with an at-bay, number of hits each team compiled and the combined number of pitchers in the game. Adding to the poetry is the Rays asserting their ownership of Pinellas County by sending the Blue Jays off to Buffalo with a clean sweep to closeout their stay in Dunedin.
For anyone that has ever moved out of a dorm room, apartment, or any other rental property, we all know a good sweep is on the final checklist.
As for the game itself, it was weird having a random Monday day-game and this one lived up to being quite unusual.
The game started the way Sunday’s game ended. After the Rays loaded the bases, Taylor Walls drew a walk scoring Randy Arozarena to give the Rays a 1-0.
Blue Jays pitching coach Pete Walker was ejected from the game in the first inning after verbally sharing his displeasure with home plate umpire Junior Valentine today.
Probably an understatement to say Pete Walker was unimpressed by home plate ump Junior Valentine today pic.twitter.com/odJ4KBtt2r— Ben Nicholson-Smith (@bnicholsonsmith) May 24, 2021
On the very next pitch Joey Wendle took a curveball from Blue Jays starter Trent Thornton over the left field wall for a grand slam (95.4 EV, 33 LA) to extend the Rays lead to 5-0 in the first inning. Trent Thornton would end his day with 1.0 IP, 2 H, 5 R, 2 BB and 2 SO on 32 pitches.
Lourdes Gurriel Jr. attempted to bridge some of the gap in the second inning by hitting a solo home run (94.6 EV, 31 LA) to bring make it a 5-1 game after two.
Lourdes Gurriel Jr. - Toronto Blue Jays (3) pic.twitter.com/euIdkBhhKn— MLB HR Videos (@MLBHRVideos) May 24, 2021
In the bottom of the fourth inning Mike Brosseau replaced Ji-Man Choi at first base as Choi left the game with right knee soreness which is the same knee he had surgery on earlier this year.
It didn’t really matter who was on first for the Rays in the fourth inning as the Blue Jays but two runs on the board with back to back home runs from Vladimir Guerrero Jr. (117.4 EV, 23 LA) and Teoscar Hernandez (107.9 EV, 30 LA) to make it a 5-3 ballgame. This game felt like a potential blowout in the first and got close in just a few innings.
Ryan Yarbrough finished his day after 6.0 IP, 3 H, 0 BB, 3 R, and 4 SO on 86 pitches. He had a good performance and unfortunately the three hits he gave up were all solo home runs.
Collin McHugh replaced Yarbrough and after allowing two hits in the seventh inning, he gave up a leadoff triple to Rowdy Tellez who was in to pinch-hit for Reese McGuire. McHugh recovered to strikeout Marcus Semien and Bo Bichette before getting replaced by Ryan Thompson before facing Vladimir Guerrero Jr.
Vlad Jr. took a slider that was left over the plate and crushed it for his second home run (101.3 EV, 32 LA) of the game to tie the game at 5-5.
Vlad Guerrero Jr. is hitting .335/.445/.665 with 15 HR. (T-most HR in MLB currently)— Web Gem World (@WebGemWorld) May 24, 2021
After a ninth inning with six strikeouts as both sides were retired in order, the game that started 5-0 in the first inning was somehow headed to extra innings.
The Rays had runners on first and second in the top of the 10th courtesy of Brett Phillips pinch-running for the extra innings runner at second in place of Mike Zunino and a Randy Arozarena Walk. Austin Meadows and Manuel Margot both came to the plate 0-4 so far in the game so of course that means they would hit a go-ahead RBI-double and RBI-single to give the Rays a two run lead in the 10th inning. It felt like this team was going to find a way to win this game but you couldn’t count out the Blue Jays just yet with the bottom of the 10th still to play.
Another day, another late rally pic.twitter.com/RyjrfZDSNI— Tampa Bay Rays (@RaysBaseball) May 24, 2021
The Blue Jays just refused to concede defeat and with one out and Jonathan Davis on second base, Marcus Semien hits the Blue Jays fifth home run of the game to tie it back up 7-7 in the bottom of the 10th inning.
In the top of the eleventh inning the Rays put on the finishing move to close out the game. They loading the bases with a Walls walk and Wendle single to compliment Brosseau starting on second. Francisco Mejia came through with a two-run single scoring Brosseau and Walls giving the Rays a 9-7 lead. After a Kiermaier strikeout, Arozarena hit a RBI-double scoring Wendle. Even a Meadows groundout brought a run across the plate as Mejia scored to make it an 11-7 lead for the Rays. The offense was not done as Brandon Lowe walked setting up a Margot two-run triple to give the Rays a 13-7 lead.
A Mike Brosseau double would bring Margot across the plate for the Rays final run in an exciting 7-run-inning.
You have to tip your cap to the Blue Jays for continuing to fight no matter the circumstances in this game and really this series overall. They would add another run in the bottom of the eleventh but it would not be enough as the Rays win 14-8.
This game wraps up the Blue Jays tenure in Dunedin as they will relocate to Buffalo where they played the 2020 season.
The Rays return to their permanent residence tomorrow to attempt to extend their winning streak to 12 against the Kansas City Royals. Rich Hill (3-1, 3.89 ERA) is the probable starter for the Rays against Brad Keller (3-4, 6.52) for the Royals.