The Tampa Bay Rays defeated the Toronto Blue Jays by a final score of 4-3 to improve to a season high 17 games over .500 at 58-41. They have won 8 series in a row and are 8-0-1 over their past 9 series. Their last series lost was June 18-19th in Fenway Park. They have won 13 of 14, 17 of 19, and 20 of 24. Since winning 11 in a row from June 11 through 23rd the Blue Jays have dropped 8 of their last 11 and 16 of their last 23 to drop to 45-52 on the year.
Chris Archer(5-3, 2.76 ERA) may have summed up his outing best after the game saying “I know that they have some power guys but I feel like my will and intent is more forceful then their physical power.” For 7 innings he held the powerful Blue Jays lineup to just 1R/ER on 5 hits striking out 1 while walking 4.
He created his biggest jam of the day by hitting a batter and walking two to load the bases with 2-outs but Joe Maddon stuck with him and he made the gamble pay off by retiring Brett Lawrie on a pop out to Kelly Johnson to end the inning. “The thing that was most relieving, most satisfying about the day was when the bases loaded when Joe [Maddon] could have made a pitching move he left me in.” Archer said. ” then after a leadoff wallk in the 7th he decided to leave me in as well. That just shows how much confidence in me and that’s…it’s refreshing.”
With today’s victory the Rays have been victorious in each of his last 6 starts. Over that time he has gone 4-0 with a 1.61 ERA (39-IP, 7 ER). It is quite a turnaround in fortune from his first four starts where the Rays were 1-3 and he went 1-3 with a 5.03 ERA.
For the second time in the series the Rays used the long ball to generate offense against the always tough on the Rays R.A. Dickey (8-11, 4.75 ERA).
Trailing 1-0 in the 4th inning Evan Longoria delivered his 20th home run of the year to tie the game at 1-1. In the top of the 6th inning the Rays added 3 runs to take a 4-1 lead. Luke Scott extended his hitting streak to 13 games with his 9th homer of the year, a 2-run homer, to give the Rays a 3-1 lead and Kelly Johnson followed with his 15th homer of the year.
With Joel Peralta being unavailable and Joe Maddon preferring to stay away from Jake McGee it was Jamey Wright who came in to work the 8th inning with the Rays leading 4-1 and he worked a scoreless inning.
Fernando Rodney came in to work the 9th inning and walked leadoff hitter Josh Thole and Brett Lawrie followed with an infield single that Evan Longoria made a diving stab of but threw past Kelly Johnson at 2b allowing Thole to move to 3rd. Jose Reyes followed with a 2-run double to center to cut the Rays lead to 4-3 with nobody out and the heart of the Blue Jays order due up.
Rodney delivered a steady dose of fastballs to Jose Bautista in striking him out. He retired Edwin Encarnacion on a ground out to Evan Longoria that moved Reyes up to 3rd. Rodney walked Adam Lind who was replaced by pinch runner Rajai Davis who stole second base to put the winning run in scoring position for Melky Cabrera who grounded out to Evan Longoria to end the game.
In picking up his 24th save on the year Rodney relied exclusively on his fastball throwing it 21 times in a row all between 97-100 miles per hour.