BY: John Mamola / 620wdae.com
A trio of long balls was just what Tampa Bay Rays starting pitcher Chris Archer needed as the 24 year old hurler won his third straight start in a sweep of the Toronto Blue Jays 4-3. The Rays remain the hottest team in baseball as they have now won 17 of their last 19 games, and have pulled within a game of the first place Boston Red Sox.
Things were looking a little shaking for Archer in the very beginnings of the contest as the Blue Jays were the first to score in the bottom of the second inning. Following back to back singles by Melky Cabrera and Colby Rasmus, Josh Thole came through with a ground rule double scoring Cabrera. The Blue Jays led for the only time of the game at 1-0.
The Rays offense provided the blasts of the game beginning in the top half of the fourth inning as Evan Longoria went opposite field for his 20th home run of the season. Longo’s blast made it a tie game at one. For Longoria, it would be a record setting home run as he becomes the first Rays player to have five separate 20 home run seasons in his career. Carlos Pena and Aubrey Huff each had four seasons of 20 or more blasts as a Rays player.
The Rays offense wasn’t done against Blue Jays’ starter R.A. Dickey. Luke Scott enjoyed his first career hit off the 38 year old knuckleballer sending the pitch over the right field wall. Scott’s two run shot gave the Rays a 3-1 lead, only to be increased by another run a pitch later as Kelly Johnson hit a bomb over the right field wall as well. The Rays led 4-1 on back to back home runs, only the fourth time this season the Rays have gone back to back.
Archer settled down nicely to finish the game pitching seven strong innings allowing the lone run on five hits.
Fernando Rodney came into the ninth looking to lock in his 24th save of the season, but it wasn’t easy. A lead off walk and a throwing error by Evan Longoria put the tying run at the plate in Jose Reyes. Reyes put the Blue Jays within a run hitting a double to right center scoring two making it 4-3 Rays. Rodney then struck out Jose Bautista and got Edwin Encarnacion to ground out for the first two outs of the inning. Rodney then walked Adam Lind putting the winning run on base, but got Melky Cabrera to ground out to end the game.
The Rays will now head to Boston for a four game series beginning on Monday night. The Rays will send Matt Moore to the hill up against a pitcher yet to be determined for Boston. The Red Sox likely will pitch either Brandon Workman or Steven Wright in the Monday night game.
Catch all the action on WDAE (620 AM / 95.3 FM) beginning at 6:00pm with the pre-game, and a 7:10pm first pitch.