DUNEDIN – With their nine-game win streak on the line, the Rays scored four runs in the ninth inning to pull out a 6-4 victory over the Blue Jays on Sunday afternoon at TD Ballpark.
The victory extended the win streak to double digits while the Blue Jays suffered their fifth straight loss.
With Boston losing Sunday afternoon in Philadelphia, the Rays (29-19) pulled into a first-place tie with the Red Sox in the American League East.
Trailing 4-2 and facing Tyler Chatwood, who entered with a 0.53 ERA in 16 appearances but without a save opportunity, Brett Phillips singled home Ji-Man Choi to bring the Rays to within a run with one out. Choi led off with a walk.
After Randy Arozarena flew out to right for the second out, Chatwood and Travis Bergen proceeded to walk the next four batters to force home three more runs.
Bergen, a lefty, was brought on to face Austin Meadows. Meadows fouled off four straight full-count pitches before drawing a walk on the ninth pitch. That forced in Phillips with the tying run.
“He made good pitches at the top of the zone and I tried to spoil them and not do too much,” said Meadows. “I saw the last pitch pretty good, and it was off the plate.”
Bergen then walked Manny Margot and Mike Brosseau to force in two more runs.
“Austin Meadows’ at-bat was remarkable and after that everything seemed to follow suit,” said Rays manager Kevin Cash. “We had a lot of great at-bats and we created a lot of momentum.”
Randal Grichuk’s two-run home run over the center field wall in the eighth inning off Josh Fleming broke a tie and gave the Blue Jays a 4-2 lead.
After the Rays’ uprising, J.P. Feyereisen made his first appearance for Tampa Bay since being acquired Friday from Milwaukee in the Willy Adames deal. The right-hander allowed a two-out single to Marcus Semien before striking out Bo Bichette to record his first career save.
“We told Feyereisen to be ready and he came in and made good pitches,” said Cash, who praised Fleming for his six innings of work in relief of opener Michael Wacha. Fleming got the win and improved his record to 4-3.
The Rays will look to extend their win streak to 11 on Monday afternoon (1:07) in Dunedin. Ryan Yarbrough will take the mound for the Rays and he will be opposed by Ross Stripling.
Tomorrow’s game will be the last in Dunedin for the Blue Jays who, following a six-game trip to Cleveland and New York, will head to Buffalo where the will play until (if) they are permitted to return to Toronto.