Behold Brett Phillips, the mayor of Dunedin. (Photo Credit: Tampa Bay Rays)

The Tampa Bay Rays earned their third consecutive come from behind win against the Toronto Blue Jays, this time defeating their AL East rivals on Sunday, 6-4. The Rays are in the midst of their second double-digit win streak in franchise history, as they are winners 10 consecutive games. They enter play 10-games over .500.

Michael Wacha, who had been sidelined with hamstring tightness since May 2, opened for Tampa bay and threw two scoreless innings. The right-hander allowed just a two-out single in the second inning and struck out his final batter — throwing 15 of 24 pitches for strikes (63% strike rate) in so doing.

Meanwhile, the Rays took an early lead after Randy Arozarena doubled off the left-field wall, and then scored on Manuel Margot’s two-out single to left-center.

Josh Fleming followed Wacha with a one-run lead and ultimately tossed six innings of four-run baseball on four hits and a walk while striking out two. Fleming threw 56 of 79 pitches for strikes (71% strike rate).

The left-hander kept the Blue Jays off the board until the fourth inning when Teoscar Hernandez homered to tie the score at one apiece. However, the Rays answered in their half of the fifth after Francisco Mejía homered off Hyun-jin Ryu to put them ahead by a run once again.

But, Toronto had an answer in their half of the frame. With two outs, Bo Bichette singled to left, ending his 0-for-23 stretch against Tampa Bay. Vladimir Guerrero Jr. followed with a single through the middle before Hernandez lined an RBI single to center, tying the game at two. Yet Fleming kept the game even for the time, striking out Randal Grichuk.

Fleming was able to quiet Toronto until the bottom of the eighth inning when Grichuk lined an 80 mph hanging changeup to center, scoring Hernandez, for a two-run lead. However, the lead was short-lived.

In the ninth inning, Tyler Chatwood entered the game with a 4-2 lead and tasked with closing out the game. Chatwood, however, quickly walked Ji-Man Choi before Brandon Lowe — who pinch-hit for Mejía — lined a first-pitch single to left. After Taylor Walls grounded hard into a 3-6 fielder’s choice, which put runners on the corners, Brett Phillips singled up the middle, cutting Toronto’s lead by a run. Chatwood got big Randy Arozarena to line out to right, however, Yandy Díaz — who is hitless in the series — began a revolving door of free passes after he walked on four pitches, loading the bases. Charlie Montoyo had seen enough of Chatwood and called upon left-hander Travis Bergen to face the southpaw hitting Austin Meadows.

Meadows put together a nine-pitch at-bat that resulted in a walk against Bergen, tying the game at four. Margot was next, and he was credited with his second go-ahead RBI in as many days when he walked on five pitches, putting the Rays up by a run. Mike Brosseau also drew a free pass on four pitches, putting Tampa Bay up by two and capping the scoring. All told, five of 10 Rays hitters walked in the inning.

Finally, J.P. Feyereisen slammed the door shut on Toronto, earning his first save for Tampa Bay. Feyereisen struck out Bichette to end the ballgame after allowing a two-out single by Marcus Semien.

The New What Next

The Rays look for a four-game sweep of Toronto on Monday afternoon with Ryan Yarbrough (2-3, 4.24 ERA) on the mound. He’ll pitch opposite of Ross Stripling (0-3, 7.20 ERA).

Ryan Yarbrough served up six runs (three earned) on seven hits and two walks while fanning two across six innings on Wednesday against Baltimore. Yarbrough can consider this his first quality start of the 2021 season, as half of the runs he gave up were unearned. Even so, poor outings and short starts have made Yarbrough a somewhat unreliable presence in the rotation as he owns a 2-3 record with a 4.24 ERA through nine starts. However, his numbers look far better when he pitches in a bulk-inning role (2-0, 1.00 ERA, 2.57 FIP). He is 6-1 with a 2.21 ERA in 13 career outings (five starts) against Toronto.

Ross Stripling allowed six runs on eight hits while striking out three in 3-2/3 innings on Wednesday against Boston. Stripling had a disastrous first inning, as he allowed back-to-back home runs to Alex Verdugo and J.D. Martinez. Enrique Hernandez represented Stripling’s death-knell when he hit a solo shot in the second. The right-hander hasn’t been able to find a groove this season, performing to a 7.20 ERA, a 1.76 WHIP, and 3.63 K/BB across 25 innings. He is 0-0 with a 0.00 ERA in three career outings (six innings) against the Rays. Key Matchups: Kevin Kiermaier (1-2, 2B), Manuel Margot (6-13, 2 2B, 2 HR, 2 RBI), Austin Meadows (1-3), Francisco Mejía (1-4, 2B, RBI), Joey Wendle (1-1)

You can read about the series in our preview, while the starting lineup is below.

Rays 5/24/21 Starting Lineup

  1. Arozarena LF
  2. Meadows DH
  3. Margot RF
  4. Lowe 2B
  5. Choi 1B
  6. Walls SS
  7. Wendle 3B
  8. Zunino C
  9. Kiermaier CF
  10. Yarbrough LHP

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