After former Ray David Price threw an efficient 1-2-3 first, Toronto tagged Archer for five runs in the bottom half of the inning. Ben Revere led off with an infield single, while Josh Donaldson worked a walk to put two on with none out. Jose Bautista, who entered the game 3-29 the Rays hurler, lined a three-run homer to left for a quick three-run lead. The ever dangerous Edwin Encarnacion went down swinging before Justin Smoak reached on a single to left-center. Unfortunately for the Rays, Russell Martin punctuated the inning with a two-run blast to left.
Price underwent his tribulations just two innings later, allowing four runs in the third. Kevin Kiermaier hit an opposite field ground rule double to start the rally, and Rene Rivera actually got on base by working a walk. Brandon Guyer squirted a single through the right side, loading the bases for Steven Souza Jr. with none out.
Souza lined a ball over the head of Jose Bautista in right, allowing Kiermaier to score. But Rivera got hung up near second before moving to third, as he wasn’t sure if the ball was going to be caught by Rivera. Cliff Pennington, trying to get Souza as he attempted to go back to first, threw the ball up the first base line, allowing a second run to score. Interestingly enough, a fan reached over and grabbed the ball as it reached the stands. Guyer, who initially scored on the play, was asked to retake third due to the fan interference. Price picked up a strikeout, but with a pair of runners in scoring position, the lefty allowed another run on a Logan Forsythe sacrifice-fly to left. Finally, Asdrubal Cabrera followed with an RBI single to pull the Rays within a run at 5-4. Sadly that was as close as the Rays would get.
In the bottom of the third with two outs and a runner on second (thanks to a Ryan Goins double to left), a trifecta of Rays misplayed a routine pop fly in shallow right-center off the bat of Kevin Pillar, instead converting it instead into an RBI double that glanced off the glove of a diving Kiermaier. Cliff Pennington walked before Revere doubled to right, driving in a run and extending the Jays lead to 7-4.
In an attempt to regain favor with the Rays ace, Kiermaier worked an eight pitch at-bat before homering (his 10th) to straightaway center field in the fourth, yet another defensive miscue led to two more runs in the bottom of the frame.
Cabrera and Forsythe were unable to turn a tailor-made double play off the bat of Encarnacion, and instead of none on and two out, Smoak stepped to the plate and started another two-run rally. The first baseman singled to left before Martin walked to load the bases. Goins hit a sac-fly to left and Pillar doubled to right-center, chasing Archer and putting the Blue Jays up by four.
C.J. Riefenhauser, Andrew Bellatti, Xavier Cedeno, and Brandon Gomes put up 3-1/3 innings of scoreless baseball, but Bautista capped Toronto’s scoring with a solo homer in the eighth off Kirby Yates. The Rays, on the other hand, went four innings before they got another base runner beyond first base.
Ryan Tepera took the mound for the Blue Jays with a five run lead in the ninth. Tepera walked Cabrera on four pitches, and Richie Shaffer reached on an error, putting runners at first and second. John Gibbons saw enough, and Brett Cecil entered the game in relief and got Loney to ground out to second… but not before both runners advanced to second and third. Kiermaier kept things moving along after he hit a ball off Darwin Barney’s glove for a two-base error that scored Cabrera from second.
Closer Roberto Osuna became the third pitcher of the inning and quickly handed over another run on a broken-bat single to Grady Sizemore, bringing the Rays within three. With two on and one out, pinch-hitter John Jaso followed with a single to right, putting the Rays within a two! But Osuna got Souza to line out to center and Longoria grounded to third to end the game.
Price was lifted after five innings and 95 pitches, but still picked up his 18th win, and ninth in 11 starts since joining the Jays.
The New What Next
Matt Andriese (3-5, 4.37 ERA) will make his seventh start of the season, opposite of Mark Buehrle (14-7, 3.69 ERA). Andriese last start on August 13st against Norfolk (Orioles) for Triple-A Durham. Given that he is not “stretched out,” the Tampa Bay will likely use many pitchers. Buehrle is 14-2/3 innings shy of reaching the 200-inning plateau for the 15th consecutive year, which has only been done by three pitchers in MLB history (Warren Spahn, Don Sutton, Gaylord Perry). You can read about the pitching matchup in our series preview.
Rays 9/27/15 Starting Lineup
― Interestingly enough, the end of Saturday’s game mirrored that of a game against the Twins on September 20, 2008 ― when the Rays reached the postseason for the first time. In that game, Troy Percival allowed three base runners and a run before Joe Maddon pulled him in favor of Trever Miller.
Miller allowed another run on a grounder by Alexi Casilla before coaxing a foul ball popper to third out of Joe Mauer to end the game. In this case, the Jays burnt through three pitchers and allowed three runs before coaxing a grounder to third out of Evan Longoria.
― Kiermaier’s homer was his 10th of the season, joining Carl Crawford (2004-06, 2010) as the only Ray with 10 HR and 10 triples in a season.