After two lopsided and disappointing losses to the Yankees to round out their season series in New York, the Rays made their way across the border to Toronto to start a pivotal five game set with the Blue Jays.
With the Rays rotation in need of a spot start, they called up Cooper Criswell from Durham to make his Rays debut. Opposite Criswell and pitching for the Jays was Jose Berrios.
Criswell, a 13th round pick of the Angels in the 2018 draft, had only pitched a total of 1.1 innings in the majors. Across 8 games with Durham, Criswell tossed 27.1 innings to the tune of a 3.95 ERA.
Following two less than stellar starts by Kluber and Patino to end the weekend in New York, it was up to Criswell to stop the bleeding. He would do just that, giving the Rays exactly what they needed.
He promptly retired the first nine Blue Jays hitters in order giving the Rays time to jump out to an early 1-0 lead in the 2nd inning.
Jonathon Aranda got things going early for the Rays with an RBI single scoring David Peralta.
After a leadoff walk in the 4th inning to George Springer, Vlad Jr. and Bichette hit back-to-back singles to tie the game up at 1-1. That would be the end of the day for Criswell, who went 3.1 innings and only allowed the one run. He struck out four and walked one. A really strong showing for Criswell.
J.T. Chargois was next in line and he would thwart the Jays threat in the 4th and keep the game tied at 1-1. After 1.2 scoreless innings from Chargois, the Rays would again take the lead with an RBI single by Margot.
Next up was Javy Guerra, who came in to toss more scoreless baseball. Guerra, despite hitting Bichette up and in with a high-octane fastball, held the Jays scoreless. But, tempers did flare afterwards.
The Jays, who were clearly unhappy with the lack of control shown by Guerra, decided to hit Francisco Mejia in the rear with a fastball of their own. Only this time, control was no issue.
Following Guerra, it was Poche’s turn. Poche looked sharp and tossed a scoreless inning as well maintaining the Rays 2-1 lead.
The Rays would not score in the top of the 8th and Jason Adam would exit the revolving door out of the Rays bullpen for the bottom of the 8th. After a leadoff single and subsequent stolen base by Raimel Tapia, Adam would retire the next two Blue Jays hitters.
But... Bo Bichette came to the plate and launched a two-out, two-strike pitch over the left field wall to give the Jays a 3-2 lead. Sigh...
In the top of the 9th inning, Romano was on to face the bottom half of the Rays order. Margot started the inning with a shot to the left-center gap but it was run down by Jackie Bradley Jr. who crashed into the wall. Paredes was next and worked a full count, but struck out swinging. Finally, Mejia ended the game with a roundball to first.
After two ugly games in New York, this is a loss that stings that much more for the Rays who ended the night in possession of the third wildcard spot. Tomorrow, they have a chance to bounce back with a double header starting at 1:07 p.m.