It wasn’t a very fun game until it was an incredibly fun game. The Jays never seem to hit Rays pitching, and tonight was typical in that respect. The offence only got eight guys on all night. Luckily, Bo is in a mode right now where he can carry the whole team on his back, and the Rays made him angry tonight. I’m sure Javy Guerra didn’t mean to hit him on the brim of the helmet. It was the sixth inning of a one run game and Bo represented the go ahead run. When you nearly take 99 to the face, though, I imagine intent only matters but so much. Bo came back up in the eighth and took his revenge, hitting a go ahead two run homer that would end up being the winner.
The pitchers more than held up their end of the bargain, allowing only nine base runners themselves and only one earned run. A Danny Jansen throwing error at an inopportune time aside, the defence also came up big.
Winning this series feels almost mandatory if the Jays want a shot a the top wildcard spot, and grabbing a win with a guy who has been one of their shakier starters is a great start towards that goal. Wit their win tonight, they match Seattle’s record at 79-61, and jump half a game ahead of the rays, one up in the win column. The Yankees, like the Mariners off tonight, are now 5.5 games away.
We got the good Jose Berrios tonight. He gave up two runs, one earned, over six and a third, giving up six hits, a walk and a hit batter while striking out four. The earned run came in the second. David Peralta, Manuel Margot and Jonathan Aranda strung together back to back to back singles, none hit very hard. The unearned run came in the sixth. Randy Arozarena reached on a ground ball single and stole second on ball four to David Peralta. It was a borderline pitch and Danny Jansen couldn’t wait for the call, but he airmailed his throw to second, allowing Arozarena to go to third. He came in to score on a Manuel Margot fielder’s choice grounder.
The Jays lineup had a bad night. Minor league call up Cooper Criswell was perfect through three innings, striking out four of the nine batters. They finally got to him in the fourth. George Springer worked a leadoff walk, and Vladimir Guerrero jr. followed by breaking up the no hitter with a ground ball single through the left side. Bo Bichete lined a single to centre to cash Springer in. Criswell got one more batter, popping Alejandro Kirk up, before being pulled for JT Chargois, who got Teoscar Hernandez to ground into a double play to end the inning. Chargeois would stay in the game to work a clean fifth inning.
There was some drama in the bottom of the sixth. Javy Guerra gave up a ringing double to Guerrero, then lost control of a 99mph fastball that bounced off the brim of Bichette’s helmet. Bo was a bit shaken up but not hurt, and was able to stay in the game. After Kirk grounded out to end the inning, Berrios hit Francisco Mejia in the glute to open the seventh. It’s unclear whether it was intentional. Would have been a dumb thing to do, but then again the timing is suspicious and while I’m certain Guerra wasn’t trying to put the go ahead run on it was a pretty scary moment when Bo went down and the Jays were mad. Anyway, Berrios got one more batter, a foul fly out from Taylor Walls, and was lifted for Yimi Garcia. Yandy Diaz promptly grounded into a double play to end the inning.
Colin Poche worked the bottom of the seventh for Tampa Bay, protecting a 2-1 lead. He allowed a bloop single to Matt Chapman but the Jays were otherwise unable to do anything agains him.
Garcia stayed in to handle the eighth. After getting two routine ground outs, he hit Arozarena in the hand. This one definitely wasn’t intentional, it was an 0-2 pitch that just leaked a bit up and in, but it was the end of Garcia’s night anyway as John Schneider called for Tim Mayza to play the lefty Peralta. Kevin Cash countered by subbing in Wander Franco, who’s just working his way back into the lineup after a lengthy IL stint. He chopped an easy ball to Santiago Espinal at second for the third out.
In the bottom of the inning, the Rays called on setup man Jason Adam and made six defensive substitutions, trying to hold onto their one run lead. Raimel Tapia lined a single and stole second, but Springer grounded out and Vlad struck out flailing, putting it all on Bichette’s shoulders. Bo looked over the Rays’ leveled up defence and decided to simply hit it right over them, launching a two run homer over a leaping Arozarena’s glove to put Toronto in the lead 3-2.
With the lead secured, Jordan Romano came in to close it out. Manuel Margot lead off with a fly ball crushed to the track in centre, but defensive sub Jackie Bradely jr made a phenomenal running catch just as he bounced off the wall to turn what seemed like sure extra bases into an out. Romano tipped his cap to his centre fielder and took it from there, striking out Isaac Paredes (hitting for Aranda) and getting Mejia to ground out to first.
Jays of the Day: Romano (), Bichette (0.728), and Tapia (0.123) had the number. Berrios didn’t, but I’m giving him the nod anyway since the go ahead run wasn’t his fault and he kept a sleepy offence in it just enough for Bo’s heroics to matter. Jackie Bradley jr. doesn’t have a WPA at all since he never came to the plate, but that catch also deserves a hat tip.
Not so Much: Springer (-0.117), Kirk (-0.170), and Hernandez (-0.169)
We’ve got a double header coming tomorrow. Game one will feature Alek Manoah (14-7, 2.42) facing off against Jeffrey Springs (7-4, 2.54), with first pitch scheduled for 1:07pm ET. Game two will follow at 7:07pm. The Jays are likely to start Mitch White, although that’s not confirmed. The Rays’ starter hasn’t been announced.