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Rays Slam Into Weekend With Eighth Straight Win

photo: Will Vragovic/Tampa Bay Rays

Francisco Mejia‘s grand slam in the top of the 12 inning broke a 5-5 tie and led the Tampa Bay Rays to their first win in extra innings this season, defeating the Toronto Blue Jays 9-7 Friday night in Dunedin.

Mejia’s blast off Jeremy Beasley came after Yandy Diaz grounded out, moving Brett Phillips to third base and Manuel Margot struck out between intentional walks to Brandon Lowe and Joey Wendle.  The Rays catcher took the first pitch he saw and sent it on to the roof of the team office building in right, giving his team the lead for the first time of the evening.

Toronto jumped out to a 2-0 first inning lead against Rays starter Tyler Glasnow, as Marcus Semien started with a double, moving to third on an infield hit by Bo Bichette and scoring on a base hit by Vladimir Guerrero Jr.  Teoscar Hernandez then drove in Bichette with a single of his own.

The Blue Jays added a third run in the second thanks to a two-out single by Jonathan Davis followed by a triple by Semien.

Tampa Bay got back within a run in the top of the third when Lowe, who had been 2 for 45 this season against left-handed pitching, followed a pair of walks to Randy Arozarena and Austin Meadows, and a Diaz double play grounder by connecting on a two-run homer against Blue Jays starter Anthony Kay.

Guerrero gave the Blue Jays an insurance run in the bottom of the inning with a solo shot off Glasnow, but Lowe countered in the fifth with another home run off a lefty, this time a solo shot off Travis Bergen.

But for a second straight time, Toronto again answered the Rays.  This time, it was Marcus Semien, who homered off Glasnow in the bottom of the fifth, forcing Kevin cash to go to his bullpen beofre the end of the inning.

Tampa Bay would finally get the game evened in the sixth, as Bergen hit Joey Wendle with a pitch to start the inning, and two batters later, pinch-hitter Ji-Man Choi got a hold of an A.J. Cole pitch and sent it out to right for his second home run of the season.

Both sides would have opportunties in extra innings, but the Blue Jays stranded runners at second and third base in the tenth, and each team left the bases loaded in the 11th.

Diego Castillo, who struck out Semien to end the 11th, gave up a two-run homer in the bottom of the 12th to Guerrero to make it 9-7, but struck out Hernandez and got randal Grichuk to ground out to end the game.

The win allows the Rays to keep pace one game behind the Boston Red Sox for the lead in the American League East.

Tampa Bay will look to make their winning streak nine games with a win Saturday.  Shane McClanahan (1-0, 4.67 ERA) will get the start, taking on Robbie Ray (2-1, 3.79 ERA).  First pitch is scheduled for 7:37.

Steve Carney
Written By

Steve Carney is the founder and publisher of St. Pete Nine. One of the people most associated with baseball coverage in Tampa Bay, he spent 13 seasons covering the Rays for flagship radio station WDAE, first as producer of Rays Radio broadcasts, then as beat reporter beginning in 2011. He likes new analytics and aged bourbon, and is the owner of one of the ugliest knuckleballs ever witnessed by baseball scouts.

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