DUNEDIN, Fla. (AP)Francisco Mejia hit a tiebreaking, two-run single during a seven-run burst in the 11th inning and the Tampa Bay Rays won their 11th straight game, outlasting the Toronto Blue Jays 14-8 on Monday.
Tampa Bay moved within one win of the team record for consecutive victories. In 2004, playing as the Devil Rays, they won 12 in a row under manager Lou Piniella.
”When we support each other, we can do anything,” Mejia said through a translator. ”Keep on having that motivation, good thing can happen.”
After both teams scored twice in the 10th to make it 7-all, the Rays erupted.
Mejia’s hit came off Joel Payamps (0-2) with the bases loaded. Randy Arozarena doubled home a run, Austin Meadows had an RBI grounder, Manuel Margot knocked in two with a triple and Mike Brosseau added an RBI single against Tim Mayza.
”Just outstanding at-bats,” Rays manager Kevin Cash said. ”It was a good back and forth game.”
Mejia had a 12th-inning grand slam in the Rays’ 9-7 win over Toronto on Friday night.
A day after the Rays drew five walks during a four-run rally in the ninth to win 6-4, Tampa Bay batters walked seven times. Rays pitchers, meanwhile, walked none.
Joey Wendle hit a grand slam as Tampa Bay took a 5-0 lead in the first. The Rays wound up with a four-game sweep and took over sole possession of first place in the AL East.
Vladimir Guerrero Jr. hit two of Toronto’s five home runs. The Blue Jays lost their sixth in a row.
”Obviously we don’t feel good right now but we’re going to keep our heads up,” Guerrero said through a translator. ”We’re going to continue to grind it, play hard, Things are going to get better for us.”
Tampa Bay scored twice in the 10th, but Marcus Semien tied it with a two-run homer off Jeffrey Springs (4-1).
Guerrero’s second shot was a two-run drive in the eighth off Ryan Thompson to tie it at 5.
Lourdes Gurriel Jr. and Teoscar Hernandez also homered for the Blue Jays, who played their final game at TD Ballpark. Toronto dropped seven of 10 on the final homestand and finished 10-11 at its spring training facility.
The Blue Jays will now relocate to Buffalo, New York, as COVID-19 restrictions in Canada prevent them from playing in Toronto.
”We have to do what we have to do,” Blue Jays manager Charlie Montoyo said. ”It’s time to move on. It’s funny, it was almost like playing a home game for the Rays.”
The Blue Jays went 17-9 in Buffalo last year. The 65.4 percent winning percentage is tied for the second highest for Toronto home games, only trailing 67.5 percent in 1985.
Montoyo opted to have Trent Thornton start the game as an opener in front of the struggling Ross Stripling.
Thornton was on the verge of getting out of first scoreless but third baseman Santiago Espinal booted Margot’s two-out grounder for an error. Ji-Man Choi walked to load the bases and Taylor Walls forced home run on a free pass on a 3-2 pitch.
After Toronto pitching coach Pete Walker was ejected for arguing, Wendle made it 5-0 on his opposite-field drive to left.
Stripling entered in the second and gave up two hits in seven scoreless innings.
Gurriel Jr. had a second-inning homer, and Guerrero and Hernandez went back-to-back off Ryan Yarbrough in the fourth to get the Blue Jays within 5-3.
Guerrero has 11 of his 15 homers at TD Ballpark. His first shot to center went 461 feet.
Yarbrough allowed three runs and third hits in six innings and has a 23-start winless streak. It’s the longest stretch for a traditional starter since Atlana’s Shelby Miller (24) from May 23-Sep 27, 2015. The lefty, who normally follows an opener, is 25-5 as a reliever.
Toronto has 38 homers in 21 home games, and entered with an AL-best home average of .278. On the road, the Blue Jays are hitting .230 with 30 homers over 25 games.
The Blue Jays’ home ERA is around one-half run higher than on the road.
Rays: CF Kevin Kiermaier (left eye irritation) started after coming off the bench Sunday. . Choi left with right knee soreness. He might be available Tuesday.
Blue Jays: Montoyo said CF George Springer (quadriceps) is improving but no date for a rehab assignment has been announced.
Rays: Tampa Bay LHP Rich Hill (3-1) and Kansas City RHP Brad Keller (3-4) will start Tuesday night at Tropicana Field.
Blue Jays: LHP Steven Matz (5-2) will go against New York Yankees RHP Corey Kluber (4-2) Tuesday night. Kluber is coming off a no-hitter at Texas last Wednesday night.
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