Mark Buehrle started this afternoon’s game against Chris Archer and the Tampa Bay Rays and both pitchers worked in quick, brilliant fashion. Mowing down the first six Rays he faced in the first two innings, Buehrle took me back to that no-hitter he threw against the Rays in 2009 while pitching for the Chicago White Sox
Alas, the Rays got to Buehrle in the third inning when Sean Rodriguez, playing first base today, led off with a double to right field. After taking third on a sacrifice fly by catcher Ryan Hanigan, Rodriguez scored the first run of the game when Kevin Kiermaier grounded out to Jays’ first baseman, Adam Lind. Ben Zobrist then hit a solo home run to left off Buehrle to make the score 2-0.
Archer had his only real threat in the bottom half of the third inning. After giving up a single to Danny Valencia to open the inning, Archer proceeded to strike out the next two batters. Then, Archer gave up consecutive walks to Jose Reyes and Jose Bautista to load the bases with two outs. Lind then hit about the longest fly ball one can hit in the Rogers Centre without going out of the park to Kiermaier to end the inning with the bags loaded.
In the top of the fourth, the Rays kept the pressure on the Jays and Buerhle. Evan Longoria led off with a single and went to third on a double by Wil Myers. Longo then scored on a hard hit grounder to third by Logan Forsythe. . Yunel Escobar then hit a single to right moving Myers to third and Ryan Hanigan hit a big two out single to left to score Myers and give the Rays and Archer a 4–0 lead.
Cruising along through six innings, Archer began the seventh by giving up a booming leadoff home run to Edwin Encarnacion to cut the lead to 4 – 1, but he settled down and got out of the inning. Overall it was a great start from Archer, who went 7.0 innings while giving up one run on three hits and striking out nine.
The Rays got that one run back in the eight with a towering home run by Escobar, getting the lead back to four at 5–1. In the bottom of the eighth, Grant Balfour came in for Archer. After getting the first batter to ground out to Forsythe at second, Balfour gave up back-to-back singles to Reyes and Bautista. Lind was the next batter and proceeded to hit a home run to left field to make the score 5 – 4. After getting Encarnarcion to fly out for the second out, Joe Maddon, lifted Balfour for Joel Peralta who struck out Navarro to end the inning.
Jake McGee relieved Peralta in the ninth looking for a save. McGee got two quick outs and the Jays were down to their last batter, pinch hitter, John Mayberry. Down to his last strike, Mayberry golfed a pitch just over the left field wall for a solo homer that tied the game.
It would have been easy for some teams to quit, but the Rays answered. In the top of the 10th they loaded the bases with no outs. Sean Rodriguez then slammed a deep fly to center that not only scored Myers for the go ahead run but allowed Forsythe and Escobar to tag up. Unfortunately, the Rays couldn’t capitalize anymore and headed in to the bottom of the 10th with the slimmest of leads, 6 -5.
Brandon Gomes took over in the 10th to get two quick outs and then Maddon then brought in Jeff Beliveau to face the left-handed Lind. The Jays countered this move with a move of their own by pinch-hitting right-handed Kevin Pillar for Lind, but he popped up to Forsythe to end the game.
This victory didn’t come easy for the Rays but they take the series against Toronto and head back home for a three game series with the New York Yankees at Tropicana Field.