B.J. Upton Plays Superman; Walk off homer lifts Rays in Series Opener
May 3, 2011
v. Toronto Blue Jays
W: Kyle Farnsworth (2-0) 0.87 ERA
L: Jon Rauch (BS, 1) (1-2) 4.09 ERA
Jo Jo Reyes was pitching like his job depended on it, and it probably did. Unfortunately for him, the Rays have become masters of ninth inning come backs much like they did in their improbable 2008 AL Championship Series, only this time instead of “Super Sam Fuld” it was Superman B.J. Upton smashing a line drive shot off Toronto closer Jon Rauch over the left-center wall for a walk off home run and another last minute wins for the resurgent Rays.
Reyes pitched well, allowing one run off four hits in six innings. He struck out four batters and allowed one walk. A strong start that the Jays bullpen couldn’t hold on to.
Following two solid innings from Shawn Camp and Marc Rzepcyznski, Rauch came in for the final inning. After a single by Ben Zobrist Upton hammered his second walk off home run of the season for the Rays to move their record to 16-13, two games behind the AL East-leading New York Yankees. It was the fifth comeback this season for the Rays, who have now won 15 of their last 20 games.
Brandon Gomes made his major league debut with two solid innings of no hit ball. Gomes, who came over from San Diego in the Jason Bartlett trade, looks like another solid piece of a rapidly evolving bullpen puzzle that is making the baseball world forget they lost seven members of last year’s AL East champion bullpen.
For Toronto it was the first hit allowed by their bullpen in over 11 innings, and it couldn’t have come at a worse time. The AL East looks incredibly competitive and with the Boston Red Sox climbing out of their early season swoon they can’t afford to lose games in that fashion.
Player of the Game: Upton nails down the honor with his game winner.