Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Souza's two homers power Rays to series split

Steven Souza Jr. delivered the long ball for the Rays on Wednesday afternoon. His second home run of the game powered Tampa Bay to a 5-3 come-from-behind win over the Blue Jays to earn a split of the four-game series at Tropicana Field.
"It's a split, but it's a quality split because we put ourselves in a little bit of a hole with the first two," Rays manager Kevin Cash said
Evan Longoria's leadoff single got the Rays started in the eighth. One out later, Desmond Jennings singled to put runners at the corners and chase Blue Jays right-hander Gavin FloydArnold Leon came on to pitch to Souza, who jumped on a 3-1 slider and deposited the pitch deep over the center-field wall. According to Statcast™, Souza's home run was projected to travel 438 feet, and it left his bat at 107 mph. It was Souza's third home run of the young season.
"I wanted a groundball, Arnold was a groundballer all spring," said Blue Jays manager John Gibbons, who added that Drew StorenBrett Cecil and Jesse Chavez were unavailable to pitch. "We didn't want to elevate. ... If we have the right guys, maybe it's a different story."
Josh Donaldson, who is day to day after exiting with a calf strain in the seventh, accounted for all of the Blue Jays' runs with a three-run homer off Matt Moore in the third.
"I don't think right now it's anything [major]. That's why we made the decision to come out of the game, so it doesn't turn into something I'm going to have to miss multiple games for," Donaldson said.
Rays relievers Ryan WebbDanny Farquhar and Erasmo Ramirez finished the game with four scoreless innings to put the game on ice.
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Donaldson's dinger: Donaldson brought the rain for the second time in his last three games with his homer. According to Statcast™, Donaldson's second of the year was projected to travel 386 feet and left his bat at 106 mph.
Eighteen consecutive games: Souza's first home run came in the sixth and cut the Blue Jays' lead to 3-2. At first, the ball didn't appear to have enough to get out, but Blue Jays center fielder Kevin Pillar drifted after it until he ran out of space and leaped at the wall to try and make the catch. The ball hit the top of the wall and bounced over it. Souza's blast stretched the Rays' streak of consecutive games with a home run to 18, setting a club record.
Ramirez from the 'pen: Ramirez, who started for most of 2015, was moved to the bullpen so the Rays could stay with a four-man rotation to begin the season. The right-hander made the most out of his first opportunity of the season, pitching two scoreless frames to finish the game and earn his first win.
QUOTABLE
"We're going to have another season where we play a lot of tight games." -- Cash, when asked if he had any impressions about how the season will go after watching four games
"Not a real good 24 hours, I'll put it that way." -- Gibbons, after his club blew a pair of leads in the eighth inning in back-to-back games
SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS
Brandon Guyer made his first start of the season Wednesday afternoon. Appropriately, Toronto starter J.A. Happ hit him in the left leg. The Rays outfielder was hit by pitches 24 times in 2015, setting a club record while also leading the American League.
The Blue Jays struck out 46 times this series, which is their highest total over a four-game series since Aug. 26-29, 2011.
RAYS CLAIM GOEBBERT
The Rays claimed outfielder Jake Goebbert from the Pirates. He was added to the 40-man roster, and the club optioned him to Triple-A Durham.
UNDER REVIEW
Blue Jays manager John Gibbons used one of his challenges in the top of the sixth inning to take a closer look at a play at first base. Toronto's Ezequiel Carrera hit a slow grounder to second base, and Logan Forsythe's throw took first baseman Steve Pearce off the bag. The Blue Jays felt Pearce's foot came off before he caught the ball, but in the end the replay confirmed the original call on the field. Carrera was called out to end the inning.
WHAT'S NEXT
Blue Jays: The Blue Jays will enjoy an off-day on Thursday before going home for the first time this season. Toronto will play its 40th home opener when right-hander Marcus Stromantakes the mound Friday night, with first pitch scheduled for 7:07 p.m. ET at Rogers Centre. Stroman pitched into the ninth in his Opening Day outing on Monday, tossing a career-high 75 percent of his pitches for strikes.
Rays: Chris Archer will make his second start of the season when the Rays travel to Baltimore to begin a three-game series Friday night at 7:05 ET. The Rays' ace struck out 12 Blue Jays in his five-inning Opening Day stint but came away with his first loss of the season. He is 2-4 with a 4.44 ERA in nine career appearances against the Orioles.

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