Not many expected the rubber game between the Tampa Bay Rays and Toronto Blue Jays to be a pitcher’s duel, but that’s exactly happened. Not only were both starters good, but they each took a no-hitter into the 6th inning. Blue Jays’ starter Marco Estrada, who took a no-no into the 8th inning in his last start, retired the first 22 Rays’ hitters in order before a Logan Forsythe infield single broke up the perfect game. Ultimately, both teams had few chances to score, but a Chris Colabello solo home run in the 12th inning was the only run in the 1-0 game in favor of Toronto.
As mentioned before, this game was all about pitching. Rays’ starter Nate Karns was sharp in one of his best outings of the season going 6+ innings allowing no runs on 3 hits, striking out 5 and walking 3. The Rays bullpen was equally impressive as Kevin Jepson came into the game in the 7th with runners at the corners and 0 outs. He got out of the jam unscathed by striking out two and inducing a popout. Jake McGee and Brad Boxberger each followed with scoreless innings of their own before Steve Geltz came on in the 10th.
Geltz threw 2 scoreless innings while striking out 3 and only allowing 1 hit. He had retired a club record 32 consecutive hitters before allowing a single off the bat of Ezequiel Carrera. Brandon Gomes made only one mistake in the 12th, but it went for a solo home run, which would be the decider. Blue Jays’ starter Marco Estrada was the real story of the game, however. Though his perfect game bid was broken up in the 8th as mentioned earlier, he finished with a final line of 8.2 innings pitched while allowing no runs on 2 hits and striking out 10.
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Offensively, the Rays couldn’t get a whole lot going but did have some chances late in the game to score. Kevin Kiermaier doubled with 2 outs in the 9th to give the Rays their first real opportunity, but a great play by Jose Reyes to snare a Joey Butler grounder up the middle ended the threat. Brandon Guyer came up in the bottom of the 10th with runners on 2nd and 3rd after a bizarre play where Asdrubal Cabrera’s lineout to the pitcher followed by a bad throw allowed the runners to advance to set up another chance. Guyer would line out to right to end the threat. In both cases, the Rays would have gotten hits had the Blue Jays not been positioned perfectly. Defensive shifts, which were pioneered by the Rays, wound up being at least part of their downfall in this game.
Joey Butler then came up in the 11th with 1 out and runners at second and third, but he would strike out before Evan Longoria was intentionally walked. David DeJesus then hit a sharp grounder to short to end the threat once again. DeJesus had even worse luck in the 8th inning as Josh Donaldson made arguably the catch of the year, diving into the stands to grab DeJesus’ foul ball. Here it is on video, and if you can get past the fact that it came against the Rays, you’ll probably want to see it more than once.
The Tampa Bay Rays will have tomorrow off before welcoming in the Boston Red Sox on Friday to start a 3-game series. Alex Colome will get the start at 7:10 PM EST. After the Yankees salvaged a game in their 3-game set against the Philadelphia Phillies, the Rays’ lead in the AL East stands at 1 game.