Stung: Blue Jays ruin Rays' sweep with walk-off home run

Tampa Bay got on the board first, scoring a single run in the top of the fourth inning. Evan Longoria got aboard with a one-out, stand-up double to center field. It was one of six hits and three runs charged to Toronto starter Shaun Marcum. One out later, the switch-hitting Ben Zobrist lined a double to right field, easily scoring Longoria.

Toronto came back with three in the bottom half of the frame. Jose Bautista led off with a double, followed by a walk issued to Vernon Wells. Lyle Overbay’s single loaded the bases with no outs then Aaron Hill got aboard on a fielder’s choice; Bautista and Wise both scored on a throwing error by Niemann. The lanky right-hander tried to get the force out at home but chucked the ball over the head of catcher Dioner Navarro; Overbay moved to third on the play. Adam Lind walked to reload the bases and John Buck scored Overbay with a sacrifice fly to center. Niemann got Travis Snider to fly out to center and struck DeWayne Wise out to close the frame.

The Rays battled back, working for two runs in the sixth inning. Sean Rodriguez led off with a base hit, followed by an infield single by Longoria. Ben Zobrist cracked a ground-rule double that could have easily been a triple had it not skipped out of play; Rodriguez scored and Longoria moved to third on the play. After Navarro flied out to center and with Brad Hawpe at the plate, Longo scored on a wild pitch by Marcum , tying the game.

[image-1]Knotted up going into the final frame, Hawpe got aboard with a one-out walk. He moved to third on a single by Desmond Jennings and scored on a sacrifice fly by B.J. Upton. You never feel secure against Toronto (read: Friday night), but Rays fans had to feel pretty good with Rafael Soriano coming in to pitch, looking for his 43rd save in 45 opportunities. He allowed a lead-off single to Aaron Hill; no big deal. MFIKY has been money, ice-cold, nails, lights-out, whichever superlative you prefer for the entire season, hence the aforementioned statistic. Still, you never want to take anything for granted, especially against Toronto and Lind showed us why. He snuck an 0-2 fastball just over the wall in right field for the walk-off homer and sweep-spoiling win.

You never want to lose, but it’s even worse to have your come-back victory against a team not in playoff contention spoiled by a walk-off (yeah, it makes me feel better to remember that come the post-season, Toronto’s players will be watching games instead of playing in them). With Saturday’s win, the Rays gained a game on the New York Yankees, who lost a walk-off game to the Texas Rangers in Arlington when closer Mariano Rivera allowed a run by hitting a batter with a pitch with the bases loaded. The Rays did not lose ground in Sunday's loss, as the Yanks also lost 1-4 to Texas.

It would have been nice to come into this week's home series against those same Yankees with the momentum from a sweep, but hopefully the Rays can add to New York’s woes. The Yankees come into town having just been swept by the Rangers and losing a series 1-2 to the resurgent Baltimore Orioles. I suppose that reverse momentum for NYY is almost as good as equally strong positive momentum for TB, right? We’ll see Monday night in the monumental showdown of the lefties, with David Price taking on CC Sabathia in what can only be considered a marquee match up and perhaps a post-season preview.[image-2]

Oh, heartache, thy name is loss. What was looking like a great weekend for pro sports in Tampa Bay turned into a bit of a letdown when the Tampa Bay Rays, bidding for a sweep, fell to the Toronto Blue Jays 5-4.

It looked like the boys would be coming away with a W on the afternoon and coming home with a winning road trip but the hard-hitting Toronto team had different plans. The Rays had won just a single game in the first two series of the jaunt but managed to take the first two of this weekend set against the Blue Jays – a 9-8 nail-biter Friday night and a slightly more pronounced 13-1 shelling Saturday afternoon.

Rays starter Jeff Niemann earned a no-decision and looked okay on paper, allowing three runs on two hits, walking four and striking out five men through five innings. It was arguably the best start he’s had since returning from the Disabled List. With the Rays taking the lead in the top of the ninth, Rafael Soriano took the loss on the blown save attempt.

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