Springer’s 2-run homer helps Blue Jays split double against Rays

George Springer hit a two-run homer in a four-run seventh inning and the Toronto Blue Jays edged the Tampa Bay Rays 7-2 on Tuesday to split a day-night doubleheader.

Randy Arozarena drove in the first and third innings as Tampa held on for a 4-2 victory in the afternoon game.

Pinch hitter Whit Merrifield hit a two-run double as part of the seventh-inning rally for Toronto (80-62) before Springer blasted him home. Teoscar Hernandez, Alejandro Kirk and Matt Chapman each drove a race.

Alek Manoah was scheduled to start the morning for the Blue Jays, but his departure was delayed until the evening due to a stomach ache.

Manoah pitched 6 2/3 innings, striking out five but allowing two runs on five hits and two walks. Anthony Bass (4-3), Adam Cimber, Jordan Romano of Markham, Ont., and Zach Pop combined for 2 1/3 scoreless relief innings.

The win put the Blue Jays ahead of the Rays by half a game in the hotly contested American League Wildcard race.

Ji-Man Choi and Jonathan Aranda each had a solo home run for Tampa Bay (79-62).

Yonny Chirinos scatter three hits in four innings, striking out two. Garrett Cleavinger, Jalen Beeks, Colin Poche and Kevin Herget walked out of the Rays bullpen.

Choi opened the scoring in the third, working Manoah to a full count before launching an 80.8 mph slider to deep right field. The shot without a doubt was Choi’s 10th of the season.

Kirk tied the game at sixth when his dribbler on the first base line gave Vladimir Guerrero Jr. enough time to score from third.

Aranda restored Tampa Bay’s lead in the top of the seventh, cruising 83.7 mph over the left field wall to make it 2-1.

Blue Jays interim manager John Schneider made a series of roster changes late in the seventh to give Toronto their first lead of the game.

Santiago Espinal replaced Cavan Biggio to start the inning and tied and went third on two Wild Pocket pitches. After Chapman hit, Danny Jansen hit for Raimel Tapia and walked, bringing Merrifield – in place of Jackie Bradley Jr. – to the plate.

Merrifield hit the first pitch he saw down the left-field line for a brace, catching Espinal and Bradley Zimmer, who was running in place of Jansen, to make it 3-2.

Springer then came to the plate, smashing an 83.8 mph curveball from Poche to deep left field, bringing the Rogers Center crowd of 25,103 to their feet and giving Toronto a 5-2 lead.

Hernandez tacked on a run in the eighth, doubling Kirk, who had started the inning with a single. Chapman’s sacrificial fly brought Hernandez home for a 7-2 lead.

Toronto’s Ross Stripling (7-4) gets the start for the fourth leg of the five-game series against Tampa Bay. Drew Rasmussen (10-4) is slated for the Rays.

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