Extra-Inning Victory Brings Rays To Within One Of Team Record Win Streak

The Rays extended their win streak to 11 games Monday afternoon while the Blue Jays ended their stay in Dunedin having lost six straight. (Tom Layberger)

DUNEDIN – The Rays have had a few memorable wins during their 11-game streak. A 14-8 victory over the Blue Jays on Monday afternoon at TD Ballpark might be at the top of the heap.

The Rays’ streak is one behind the club’s all-time mark of 12 set in June 2004. The streak started with a May 13 win against the Yankees and has been followed by three-game sweeps of the Mets and Orioles and a four-game sweep of the Blue Jays.

The Rays, who moved into first place in the American League East a half game ahead of idle Boston, scored five unearned runs in the first inning off opener Trent Thornton only to be shut down over the next eight innings, the first seven courtesy Ross Stripling.

Meanwhile, the Blue Jays played long ball in getting back in the game and tied it in the eighth on a two-run homer by Vladimir Guerrero Jr., his second of the game and 15th of the season.  

That set the stage for extra innings when the Rays scored twice in the tenth only to have Toronto tie it in their half of the inning on a two-run homer by Marcus Semien.

The Rays then erupted for seven runs in the eleventh to take a 14-7 lead. The key hit was a two-run single by Francisco Mejia that scored the runner on second, Mike Brosseau, and Taylor Walls, who led off the inning with a walk.

The Rays banged out five hits and drew a pair of walks in the inning to make a winner of Jeffrey Springs.

“To put together the at-bats we had, just outstanding at-bats,” said Rays manager Kevin Cash. “Everybody has a role to play when you score that many runs.”

Mejia, who hit a 12th-inning grand slam to provide the difference in Friday night’s series-opening win, went 4-for-9 with two homers and seven RBIs in the series. He did not enter Monday’s game until the top of the tenth.
 
“We support each other, motivate each other and we can do anything,” said Mejia, of the Rays’ ability to win every conceivable type of game during the streak.

With the wind blowing out to left and the ball carrying well – the Blue Jays hit five homers, including three solo shots off starter Ryan Yarbrough accounting for the three runs he allowed in six innings – the feeling was a 5-0 first-inning lead was going to be far from comfortable.

“In those types of games that go back and forth you just keep competing,” said Joey Wendle, who hit a grand slam in the first, part of a three-hit afternoon. “It was good to put a nail in it at the end.”

The Rays got a run-scoring double from Austin Meadows and an RBI single from Manny Margot to make it 7-5 in the tenth.

With the score still 5-0, Ji-Man Choi was removed in the fourth inning with a sore right knee. Fortunately, it does not appear to be serious. After the game Cash said he likely would not have pulled Choi if the score was tighter.  

As for the Blue Jays, they played their final game in Dunedin. They concluded their stay at TD Ballpark with a six-game losing streak and a record of 10-11. Guerrero hit 11 homers in the 21 games at the team’s spring training site. 

The Rays will attempt to equal their all-time best win streak Tuesday night against Kansas City.

Tom Layberger has been a sports writer and editor since 1990. Among the companies he has worked for are Beckett Publishing, The Topps Company and Comcast. In addition to being a contributing writer for sportstalkflorida.com, Tom also writes for forbes.com and Tampa Bay Business & Wealth Magazine. A native of the Philadelphia suburbs and a University of South Florida grad, Tom is a member of the Football Writers Association of America and the National Football Foundation. He resides in Tampa.