Balfour Falls Apart In Ninth As Rays Lose To Jays 8-5
Rays Late Comeback Wasted As Grant Balfour Implodes In Ninth
The Tampa Bay Rays fought back from a 5-2 deficit thanks to a Sean Rodriguez 3-run homer in the bottom of the seventh to tie the game at 5-5 only to see the Toronto Blue Jays rally for three runs in the top of the ninth off Grant Balfour (0-3, 5.60 ERA) to defeat the Rays 8-5.
Balfour exited the game to a chorus of boos from the fans at Tropicana Field after he allowed three runs and departed with runners on the corners and only one out. Kirby Yates came in and retired both batters he faced to keep the deficit at just three runs.
The loss drops the Rays record to 42-53 and combined with the Red Sox 8-3 victory over the Houston Astros they find themselves back into the cellar of the AL East.
The win improves the Jays record to 49-45 and they remain three games behind the Division leading Baltimore Orioles who defeated the New York Yankees 3-2.
Chris Archer struggled allowing five runs (all earned) on six hits striking out seven and walking three and left the game after five innings with the Rays trailing 5-2.
The move paid off as Rodriguez connected on a 86-mph slider for a 3-run game tying home run. For Rodriguez it was his ninth home run of the season and fifth against right handed pitching in just 69 plate appearances versus right handed pitching. The home run increases his extra-base hit percent to 55.1% (19 of 34 hits).
The fact that the Rays had to come back in the game was frustrating as Jays starter Mark Buehrle was not sharp but was able to dance in and out of trouble allowing only two runs (both earned) on nine hits striking out three and walking one in just five innings of work.
The Rays offense missed early opportunities to push runs across against the wily veteran Buehrle. They loaded the bases in the first inning with nobody out and scored only a single run, loaded the bases with two outs in the second inning but failed to capitalize, and had runners at second and third with 2-out in the bottom of the fourth but came up empty once again.
While the Rays faltered with runners in scoring position the Jays took advantage of their opportunities to grab a 5-2 lead. They loaded the bases in the second and plated all three runs and had runners at second and third in the fourth inning and got the key two out hit to score both runs.
After Archer left the game Cesar Ramos came in to keep the Jays of the board for the sixth and seventh innings and Brad Boxberger worked a scoreless eighth giving the Rays offense a chance to break through against the Jays bullpen.
The Rays came back to tie the game in the bottom of the seventh on a 3-run homer by Sean Rodriguez and turned the game over to Grant Balfour to work the top of the ninth.
Balfour walked Dan Johnson to lead off the inning. It was Johnson’s fourth walk of the evening tying a career high. After striking out Juan Francisco Jose Reyes doubled to bring Steve Tolleson to the plate.
Joe Maddon pulled his infield in and placed three infielders on the right side but Tolleson delivered an opposite field single to score both Johnson and Reyes to put the Blue Jays back on top 7-5.