Jays blow another late lead against Rays
TORONTO â€” But for those pesky ninth innings, the Toronto Blue Jays could right now be breathing down the necks of the American Leagueâ€™s best team after a series sweep.
Instead, manager Cito Gastonâ€™s club heads into its off-day on Thursday with some very raw wounds and two fresh reminders about what separates them from the truly elite teams.
â€œSome day weâ€™re going to get three out in the ninth inning, some day, somewhereâ€ said Gaston after the Tampa Bay Rays staged a ninth-inning rally for a second straight game, this time for a 7-3 win. â€œTheyâ€™re both tough. When youâ€™re leading like that, you had a chance to sweep these guys, all we had to do is get three outs and we werenâ€™t able to do it. That says a little bit about their team and where we need to improve.â€
Carl Crawfordâ€™s grand slam off Scott Downs capped a six-run ninth inning that turned a 2-1 deficit into a 7-3 win for the visitors.
Given closer Kevin Greggâ€™s wobbly save on Monday and his four-run meltdown in Tuesdayâ€™s 7-6 loss, it almost seemed predestined that Torontoâ€™s chance would come down to protecting a late lead.
On Wednesday, Gaston let starter Shaun Marcum try and finish what he started before an announced crowd of 13,517. The right-hander who entered the game 5-1 with a 2.59 ERA had gone beyond seven innings just once in 11 previous starts this season.
He failed when given the shot at a complete game on Wednesday.
A pair of singles and a fielderâ€™s choice set up Dioner Navarroâ€™s safety squeeze bunt that tied the game 2-2. Reid Brignacâ€™s double put Tampa ahead 3-2 and ended Marcumâ€™s night, with Frasor walking B.J. Upton before Crawford delivered the death blow.
Marcum, who had given up just one unearned run through eight innings, ended up charged with 10 hits and five runs, four of them earned, in 8 1/3 innings.
â€œWe played them six times and weâ€™ve taken them down to the wire every time,â€ said Marcum. â€œLate in the game they come back. They battled and thatâ€™s probably why they were in the World Series a couple of years ago and why theyâ€™re leading the division.â€
Tampaâ€™s rally gave the win to young star David Price, who gave up just two unearned runs in earning his eighth win of the season with eight stellar innings.
An umpireâ€™s call played a big role in helping Toronto carry a lead into the ninth.
While not as dramatic as the apparent blown call at first that prevented Detroitâ€™s Armando Galarraga from authoring a perfect game for the Tigers, third base umpire Angel Hernandez had a big outcome on the result between the Blue Jays and Rays.
The same umpire who ejected Rays manager Joe Maddon and Gregg in Tampaâ€™s comeback win on Tuesday ruled Sean Rodriguez did not touch third base coming home with an apparent tying run on Ben Zobristâ€™s single. Replays showed Rodriguez appeared to catch the inside corner of the bag with his left â€” or inside â€” foot, though in fairness to Hernandez what would have been almost impossible to see from his position behind third base.
Instead of a 2-2 tie and runners on first with one out, the Rays had two outs, Zobrist on first and a rally easily snuffed out when Gabe Kapler flew out to right.
Toronto opened a 2-0 lead on Price with unearned runs in the first and second, with errors by Brignac and Upton helping Jose Bautista and John Buck each drive in a run.
Buckâ€™s wild throw trying to get Navarro at second on a Brignac sacrifice bunt attempt in the fifth led to an unearned run for Tampa on a Crawford single that made it 2-1.
An RBI double by Overbay in the ninth counted Torontoâ€™s final run.
The Blue Jays had chances to add to their lead several times, but Bautista got caught stealing to end the first and Price picked Vernon Wells off second in the fourth.
Rays third baseman Evan Longoria also contributed defensively with some highlight reel efforts on a pair of double-plays.