Blue Jays drop Game 1 against Rays in crucial 4-game series between playoff contenders

Wander Franco had three RBIs, Jonathan Aranda homered and the Tampa Bay Rays beat the Toronto Blue Jays 10-5 Thursday night in Game 1 of a major four-game series between the playoff contenders. .

Randy Arozarena had three hits and two RBIs for the Rays, who were coming off a three-game streak in which they were swept by Houston and scored just twice.

Tampa Bay (83-67) pulled out a game away from Toronto (84-66) for first place in the AL wild card standings. Seattle (82-67) is third, four games ahead of Baltimore.

Whit Merrifield homered twice for Toronto, and Teoscar Hernandez also went deep. Jose Berrios (11-6) was scored for six runs and seven hits in two innings.

Manuel Margot’s infield RBI single and hits from Franco and Arozarena gave the Rays a 6-3 lead in the second.

Franco added a two-point brace on the Rays’ fourth three-pointer.

Tampa Bay manager Kevin Cash opted to replace Ryan Yarbrough (3-8) with fly-half JT Chargois to start the second, facing a pair of hitters with some career success against the southpaw.

Hernandez hit a first homer, his seventh in 34 at bats against Yarbrough. One out later, Merrifield tied it at 3 with his solo shot, giving him seven hits, including two home runs, on nine hits against the southpaw.

Merrifield added a two-point drive in the ninth.

Yarbrough left in the third with right-sided discomfort.

Garrett Cleavinger replaced Yarbrough and allowed a hit in two scoreless innings before Shawn Armstrong, Brooks Raley and Colin Poche combined for three scoreless innings.

Aranda homered on Berrios’ second pitch in a first three-run. Arozarena hit a brace, went third on a pitch at home plate, and scored on crazy ground.

Toronto’s Bo Bichette hit a double first, giving him 24 RBIs in 21 games in September.

Radio Rays play-by-play player Andy Freed caught a foul ball from Toronto’s George Springer in the seventh into a net that broadcasters keep in their box.

The Blue Jays are lining up right-hander Alek Manoah (14-7. 2.40 ERA) to start the last game of the regular season or a potential wildcard opener.

Caretaker manager John Schneider would use Manoah if home advantage was at stake.

“I think there would be nothing better than playing in front of our fans in the playoffs after the last two years. [impacted by the pandemic]”Schneider said. “We haven’t been there with what the world and the country have been through.

Rays right-hander Kevin Herget, who made his major league debut Sept. 13 after a decade in the minors, has been slated for assignment.

Infielder/outfielder Miles Mastrobuoni has been selected from Triple-A Durham after seven years as a minor and a few weeks after his brother’s marriage.

“It’s been an eventful month for our family,” Mastrobuoni said.

Blue Jays outfielder Lourdes Gurriel Jr. (left hamstring) is doing baseball activities and could start running soon. Toronto infielder Santiago Espinal (left oblique) went on the IL.

Rays ace Shane McClanahan (stiff neck) had a bullpen session and is expected to start on Sunday.

Jeffrey Springs of the Rays (9-4) will start Friday night. Toronto has not announced its starter.


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