The Tampa Bay Rays defeated the Toronto Blue Jays by a final score of 8-5. The Rays have now won 11 of their last 12 games, 15 of 17, and 18 of 22 and their record improves to a season high 15 games over .500 at 56-41. The Blue Jays have been trending the other direction dropping 5 of their last 9 of 13, and 14 of 21 and see their record fall to 45-50.
Entering tonight the Rays starting rotation was riding a franchise record streak of 15 consecutive quality starts (6 innings pitched or more with 3 earned runs or less) which according to Elias was the longest streak since the Oakland A’s recorded 18 straight from August 7 through 26th 2010.
By definition David Price (4-5, 4.03 ERA) did not deliver a quality start but he delivered a very good start but you wouldn’t know it by his line score. He worked 7 innings allowing 4R/ER on 7 hits striking out 5, walking 1, and allowing 3 home runs. After allowing a solo home run to Edwin Encarnacion in the bottom of the 2nd inning the Jays roughed him up for 3 more runs in the bottom of the 3rd on a solo homer by J.P. Arencibia and a 2-run shot by Jose Bautista.
The Jays had a chance to break the game open after Bautista’s home run when Price issued a 2-out walk to Mark DeRosa. It was his first walk issued since returning from the disabled list (a span of 99 hitters). The walk ended a string of 27.2 innings of work without a walk setting the franchise record of 26 innings held by James Shields (2007) and Jeremy Hellickson (2013). After the walk the Blue Jays loaded the bases on back to back single before retiring Colby Rasmus to end the inning.
He settled down after retiring Rasmus to end the 3rd inning and only allowed an infield single to Rasmus over his final 4 innings of work. While he was busy silencing the Jays bats the Rays were heating up against Jays starter Esmil Rogers who was spotted a 4-1 lead. The Rays single tally came on a solo home run by Ben Zobrist in the 2nd inning.
The lead was cut to 4-2 on Wil Myers 4th home run leading off the top of the 4th and tied the game at 4-4 in the top of the 6th inning on a pair of solo home runs. Evan Longoria led off with his 19th homer and 2-outs later Kelly Johnson launched his 14th home runto tie the game at 4-4.
Esmil Rogers has allowed 9 home runs in 77.1 inning of work this season and after allowing home runs to Ben Zobrist, Wil Myers, Evan Longoria, and Kelly Johnson has now allowed 7 home runs to the Rays. Lucky for him all 7 of the home runs have been solo shots. Tonight he worked the first 5.2 innings allowing 4R/ER on 7 hits striking out 4 and walking 0.
Over the last 30-days the Blue Jays bullpen had been the best in the American League posting an ERA of 2.15 (20 ER/83.2 IP). The Rays offense touched them up for 4R/3ER in 3.1 innings of work.
The Rays had opportunities to take the lead in the 6th and 7th innings but failed to capitalize. They would not let opportunity slip away in the top of the 8th and added 2-runs to take a 6-4 lead. Kelly Johnson led off the top of the 8th with a single. With Matt Joyce due up and left hander Brett Cecil on the mound Joe Maddon inserted Sean Rodriguez as a pinch hitter. In the game of cat and mouse John Gibbons called on right hander Steve Delabar to face Rodriguez.
Delabar jumped ahead 0-2 before Sean Rodriguez laid down a sacrifice bunt moving Johnson to 2nd. Jose Molina flew out for the 2nd out but Ryan Roberts delivered a 2-out RBI single to score Johnson and give the Rays the 5-4 lead. Roberts moved up to 2nd on the throw home, advanced to 3rd on a wild pitch, and came in to score on a 2-out double by Desmond Jennings giving the Rays a 6-4 lead
With a 2-run lead in the 8th inning Maddon went to Kyle Farnsworth instead of the normal Joel Peralta. Farnsworth walked Encarnacion and Peralta was summoned from the pen and allowed a walk but kept the Blue Jays off the board.
After the game Joe Maddon explained his decision saying, “if you look at Peralta’s body of work this year, it’s been rather large. If I can shorten up his body of work in a good matchup I’m going to try to do that sometimes.” Maddon said that regardless of the outcome of the Encarnacion plate appearance Peralta was coming into the game.
The offense added two insurance runs in the top of the 9th off Neil Wagner. With 1-out Luke Scott doubled to extend his hitting streak to 11 games in a row. He came in to score after Jose Reyes made an ill advised throw on an Wil Myers infield single that got by 1st baseman Edwin Encarnacion. Myers moved up to second on the error and came in to score on a single by Sean Rodriguez to give the Rays an 8-4 lead.
Brett Cecil (3-1, 2.12 ERA) took the loss for the Jays.