Jays can't hold on to extra-inning leadsRays' Chirinos wins game in 12th
By KEN FIDLIN, QMI Agency
|Tampa Bay Rays' Robinson Chirinos lays down an RBI-bunt during the second inning of an American League MLB baseball game off Toronto Blue Jays starter Carlos Villanueva in St. Petersburg, Florida, August 3, 2011. (REUTERS/Steve Nesius)
ST. PETERSBURG, FLA. - Just call them the Transylvania Blue Jays.
Check out the dental records of these guys and you’ll likely find vampire fangs that would make Bela Lugosi green with envy.
Send them out at night and they’re looking for blood. Daytime, not so much. Inexplicably, the Jays are 41-28 in night games, a winning percentage of almost .600. But when the sun is high, as it was during Thursday’s 7-6 loss to the Tampa Bay Rays, Toronto is now 15-27 in daylight, a winning percentage of .357.
“Maybe, since we’re in a dome, they’ll think it’s a night game,” said Jays manager John Farrell, hopefully, before the start. No such luck.
In one of the most bizarre extra-innings sequences you’ll ever see, the Jays twice took the lead, twice blew the save and twice somehow kept the game tied before losing it in the bottom of the 12th inning.
When was the last time you saw the home team score in three straight innings ... beyond the ninth inning?
“It was a tough game,” said Farrell. “Anytime you get the lead back twice and lose it twice, it’s a tough game.”
Jays slugger Jose Bautista had earlier tied the game 3-3 in the eighth with his 33rd home run of the season, then Colby Rasmus had given Toronto a 4-3 lead in the 10th with an RBI-double. Desmond Jennings’ solo homer off Jays reliever Jon Rauch in the bottom of the 10th tied the game again for Tampa. That set the stage for Jays catcher Jose Molina’s short-lived heroics when he tripled to give Toronto a 6-4 lead in the 11th.
The Rays rallied again for two runs in the bottom of the 11th before Toronto's Shawn Camp finally wrestled the Rays to the ground to keep it tied.
But in the 12th, with one out Tampa's B.J. Upton tripled into the right field bullpen area. The Jays intentionally walked Casey Kotchman and Matt Joyce to load the bases. Camp struck out Elliot Johnson but catcher Robinson Chirinos rolled a game-winning single between third and short to win it.
The Jays scored a pair of runs in the first inning. Tampa went ahead on one two-out, two-on swing of the bat by Evan Longoria in the fifth. With Justin Ruggiano and Jennings on base, Longoria hit the first pitch he saw into the seats in left to put his team up 3-2.
“The pitch to Longoria should never have happened,” said Jays starter Brett Cecil. “I always talk about pitch location but at that point in the game, the way we had pitched him before, it was about pitch selection. An off-speed pitch would have been better.”
That’s the way it stayed until, with two outs in the eighth, Tampa manager Joe Maddon elected to have starter Wade Davis pitch to Bautista. Bautista looked at a strike, then powdered the next pitch for his major-league leading 33rd home run to tie the score at 3-3.
In the top of the 10th, Toronto's J.P. Arencibia walked with one out and Rajai Davis was summoned to wreak havoc on the basepaths as a pinchrunner. With the count 2-1 to Yunel Escobar, Tampa reliever Joel Peralta picked Davis off first.
Escobar worked Peralta for a walk and then Rasmus, facing lefty reliever Jake McGee, lashed a 1-2 pitch off the wall in left-centre to deliver Escobar with the go-ahead run.
It took the Rays no time at all to wipe out that lead. Jennings, leading off the bottom of the 10th, looked at a Jon Rauch strike then hammered the next pitch into the seats in left tie it at 4-4.