May 23, 2012; St. Petersburg, FL, USA; Tampa Bay Rays center fielder B.J. Upton (2) hits the game winning RBI double in the eleventh inning against the Toronto Blue Jays at Tropicana Field. Tampa Bay Rays defeated the Toronto Blue Jays 5-4 in eleven inning. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-US PRESSWIRE

Game 45: B.J. Upton Walk-Off Double Lets Rays Escape With Victory

The Rays had their chances early and often, yet it took extra innings before they wrapped up a 5-4 victory over the Toronto Blue Jays.

The Blue Jays jumped out to an early lead off Rays starter James Shields. After getting two quick outs in the top of the first, Shields fell behind Joey Bautista 3-0. After taking a strike, Bautista sent the next offering over the left field wall, giving the Jays a 1-0 lead.

The lead would not hold up for long. Jays starter Ricky Romero had problems with his control all game, and walked Carlos Pena and Matt Joyce in the bottom of the inning. Drew Sutton, hitting cleanup for the first time in his major league career, lined a one out double just beyond the dive of Colby Rasmus, scoring both runners and giving the Rays a 2-1 lead.

Tampa struck again in the bottom of the third. Pena was hit by a pitch, and moved to third on B.J. Upton’s double. Joyce grounded out to first, scoring Pena and giving the Rays a 3-1 lead. After a Sutton walk, Luke Scott grounded into a fielder’s choice, plating Upton and extending the lead to 4-1.

Shields was in command up to the top of the fifth. Brett Lawrie opened the inning with a base hit to center. Rasmus hit a groundball to first, moving Lawrie to third as Elliot Johnson was unable to handle Pena’s throw. Yan Gomes hit a sacrifice fly to deep center, scoring Lawrie and cutting the Rays lead to 4-2.

The Rays would have their chances, as Romero allowed baserunners in every inning aside from the fourth and fifth; however, they were unable to capitalize. After a walk to Chris Gimenez to lead off the bottom of the seventh, Romero was pulled from the game, having given up 4 earned runs on 7 walks and 1 hit batsmen. He minimized the damage by only allowing 2 hits, and striking out 7 batters. With one out, Pena doubled, putting runners on second and third. With the infield pulled in, Upton grounded out sharply to second, with the throw home in time to get Gimenez.

In the top of the eighth, Shields gave up a one out double to Bautista, which was just out of the reach of a diving Rich Thompson. The double ended Shields’ day, as Joel Peralta was brought in to hold the lead. He promptly gave up a home run over the left center fence to Edwin Encarnacion, tying the game and causing Shields’ efforts to go for naught. Shields ended the game having pitched 7.1 innings, allowing 3 runs (2 earned) on 7 hits and 1 walk while striking out 10 batters.

The Rays would threaten in the bottom of the ninth. With one out, Pena drew another walk. Upton singled to left, putting runners on first and second. After Joyce struck out, Sutton had an infield hit to second. Pena attempted to score on the play, but was cut down at the plate, preserving the 4-4 game.

That score held up until the bottom of the eleventh inning. After appearing to be hit by Darren Oliver’s first pitch, Thompson reached on a ball that he appeared to make no effort to get out of the way of. After Pena struck out, Upton doubled down the left field line, scoring Thompson without a throw and giving the Rays a hard fought 5-4 victory.

Game Notes: In the win, the Rays had 10 walks, just shy of their team record of 12. The error in the top of the fifth inning was the Rays 41st of the year. Last year, the Rays did not have 41 errors until July 4th. 9 of James Shields 10 strikeouts came on the changeup.

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