Guerrero Jr. hits 100th career home run as Blue Jays beat Rays
Vladimir Guerrero Jr. hit a solo homer in the first inning and then added an RBI as the Toronto Blue Jays beat the Tampa Bay Rays 5-1 on Wednesday.
Bo Bichette, Santiago Espinal and Raimel Tapia all had RBI singles as the Blue Jays (81-62) added to their lead over the Rays in the tight American League wildcard race.
Toronto now has a 1.5 game lead over Tampa Bay and a half game lead over the Seattle Mariners, who beat the San Diego Padres 6-1 earlier on Wednesday.
Ross Stripling (8-4) got off to a quality start and the win, going 6 1/3 innings, allowing just one run on three hits and striking out four.
Career homer number 💯 #PLAKATA 💥 pic.twitter.com/jq1MwuefR8
Relievers Adam Cimber, Yimi Garcia and Anthony Bass closed the door the rest of the way.
Harold Ramirez’s home run was the only attack Tampa Bay (79-63) would get.
Drew Rasmussen (10-5) allowed four runs in as many innings on six hits and one walk. He scratched one. Josh Fleming allowed one run on five hits in his four innings of work.
Guerrero got to Rasmussen in the first, throwing a 365-foot fastball into deep left field for his 28th homer of the season. This ended a 14-game home drought for Guerrero. His last homecoming came on August 30 in a 5-3 win over the Chicago Cubs.
Bow down, @RossStripling 👏 pic.twitter.com/OVI3WnpJ01
The burly all-star struck again in the third inning when his defender’s pick scored Santiago Espinal from third. In the next game at bat, Bo Bichette singled to right field to bank Jackie Bradley Jr. for a 3-0 Toronto lead.
Espinal veered on a run to fourth when his rebounding single found its way between Rays third baseman Yandy Diaz and shortstop Taylor Walls. As Tampa’s infielders recovered the ball, Blue Jays receiver Danny Jansen headed home from third.
Ramirez took that lead in the seventh, hitting a solo homer against Stripling to start the inning. Ji-Man Choi was knocked out first in the next at bat, but that ended Stripling’s night. He received a standing ovation from the 24,282 people in attendance at the Rogers Centre.
Blue Jays interim coach John Schneider said outfielder Lourdes Gurriel Jr. will play catches as he progresses from a strained left hamstring. He is expected to be off the 10-day injured list on Sunday, but Schneider said a lot will depend on how Gurriel feels this weekend.
Kevin Gausman (12-9) is set to start in Toronto’s five-game series finale against the Rays. Shane McClanahan (11-5) will take the mound for Tampa Bay on the morning at 3:07 p.m. ET.