Published January 13, 2015
The Toronto Blue Jays shoot for a third straight win on Tuesday when they continue a four-game series with the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field.
Toronto won the opener of this set in dramatic fashion on Monday, as J.P. Arencibia smacked a go-ahead two-run homer in the ninth inning to cap a seven- run turnaround and lift the Blue Jays to an unlikely 8-7 comeback victory.
Tampa scored seven runs in the third inning and seemed well on its way to a win. However, the Blue Jays never quit and chipped away at the lead before breaking through in their final at-bat.
Facing Fernando Rodney (1-1) in the ninth, Adam Lind drew a leadoff walk and was replaced by Emilio Bonifacio as a pinch-runner. Bonifacio then stole second and advanced to third on the same play as Jose Molina's throw from behind the plate skipped into the outfield.
Rodney struck out Colby Rasmus and forced Maicer Izturis to ground out to first base for two quick outs. The next batter Arencibia, though, faced a 2-2 count and smacked Rodney's 97 mile-per-hour fastball over the left field wall to give the Jays the eventual game-winner.
"In a lot of ways we were due, but you don't expect it to happen that way," Blue Jays manager John Gibbons said of his team scoring eight unanswered runs.
Rasmus and Mark DeRosa each hit two-run homers, while Darren Oliver (1-1) picked up the win with a scoreless eighth.
Evan Longoria hit a grand slam and Luke Scott hit a two-run shot for the Rays, who plated all seven of their runs in the third inning. Rodney blew the save and threw a season-high 37 pitches over 1 1/3 innings in relief.
"You lose a game like this and it's tough. Everybody is going to go home very upset. It's how you bounce after the fall," Rays manager Joe Maddon said.
Heading to the hill for the Jays on Tuesday will be lefty J.A. Happ, who is coming off one of the worst outings of his career. Happ struggled with his control his last time out on Thursday against Boston, as he gave up two runs and three hits, but walked seven batters in just 3 2/3 innings to fall to 2-2 on the year to go along with a 3.98 ERA.
Toronto has lost the last five times Happ has taken the mound.
Tampa, meanwhile, will counter with righty Roberto Hernandez, who is 1-4 with a 5.28 ERA and hasn't pitched losing to Chicago back on April 26. Hernandez gave up fie runs in six innings of that one.
"This guy, for me, is on a mission to prove that he's a big league pitcher and he can be here and be successful again and pitch for several more years," Maddon said. "He has a great look every time he goes out there. The other day I took him out after five or six, and he wanted to go one more. And I said, 'No, that's good.' I mean, this guy is very motivated. Just be patient with him. I think as the year progresses, this guy is going to get really good."
Hernandez is 3-1 lifetime versus the Jays with a 4.54 ERA in six starts.
Tampa dominated its season series with the Jays a year ago, taking 14 of the 18 matchups.