Donaldson's walk-off HR cuts Blue Jays' magic number to 4
TORONTO -- Josh Donaldson ripped a solo shot to give the Blue Jays a come-from-behind, walk-off, 5-4 victory in the series finale against the Rays at Rogers Centre on Sunday afternoon. The win completed the series sweep, as Toronto remained four games up on the Yankees for the top spot in the American League East, lowering its magic number to four.
Donaldson came to the plate with two out and nobody on, and drove a Steve Geltz slider over the wall in left field.
"I'm thinking he's real aggressive here," Geltz said. "I don't want to give him anything straight to hit, and I left one too much [in the] middle."
It was a dramatic end to a game the Rays led for eight innings until Blue Jays pinch-runner Dalton Pompey stole second and later scored on Kevin Pillar's double to tie things at 4 heading into the ninth.
Justin Smoak collected three hits -- including a homer -- and had three RBIs to help secure the win in the last Blue Jays' home game of the regular season. Mikie Mahtook was 2-for-3 with a homer and a single in a losing cause for Tampa Bay.
With the game tied at 1 in the third, Mahtook cracked a two-run home run over the wall in right-center field off Blue Jays starter Mark Buehrle. Steven Souza Jr. singled and scored in the fourth to make it, 4-1, Tampa Bay. Smoak's two-run homer in the sixth brought the Blue Jays within one and helped kick-start Toronto's comeback.
Matt Andriese gave the Rays three innings in his first Major League start since July 7, before turning it over to the bullpen. Seven Rays relievers combined to work the rest of the way. Buehrle tossed six innings and allowed four earned runs on six hits, in what could've been the final home start of his Blue Jays career.
"If I'd announced that I was retiring at the end of the year, maybe it'd be something different," said Buehrle. "But [I] still don't know what's gonna happen. I'll go home and think about it, and if it is my last start here, that's something maybe to be sentimental about on my couch in the offseason."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Donaldson's day: Donaldson did it on both sides of the ball for the Blue Jays. In lacing his game-winner, he became the second player in club history to score 120 runs while recording 120 RBIs in one season, joining Shawn Green. With the glove, he saved a potential run in the eighth. After a nearly four-minute review confirmed Mahtook had successfully stolen third base with no outs, Donaldson erased the threat with a heads-up play at the hot corner. Fielding an Evan Longoria chopper, Donaldson leaped head-first to tag Mahtook, who'd strayed from the bag on contact and momentarily froze on the baseline before retreating, giving Donaldson just enough time to catch him.
"He's dangerous. He's got that flair for the dramatic," Blue Jays manager John Gibbons said. "He's done that so many times this year. That ended up being the game-winning hit, but don't forget that play he made at third base, too -- with the go-ahead run sitting out there." More >
A solid three for Andriese: Andriese started for the Rays, making his first start at any level since Aug. 13, so he was not expected to pitch deep into the game. However, he did deliver a decent three innings, allowing one run on two hits and a walk, while striking out one. He threw 54 pitches, 33 of which were strikes.
"Just tried to go as deep as I possibly could to help the guys out in the bullpen," Andriese said. "I was pretty satisfied with how I threw."
Smoak show: After doubling home a run in the first, Smoak ripped one deep over the wall in right -- his 17th of the season off Rays reliever Brandon Gomes to bring the Blue Jays within one run in the sixth. The ball left Smoak's bat at a 102 mph and traveled a projected 409 feet, according to Statcast™. He had three hits before being replaced by a pinch-runner in the eighth. Smoak said he's all about the long ball.
"If I hit the ball on the ground, I'm not fast enough to beat it out," Smoak said. "If I can get it in the air, that's been my philosophy from Day One."
Taking the extra base: Souza singled with one out in the fourth, then made a heads-up, hustling play by going from first to third on Tim Beckham's single to left. Souza's initiative paid off when Richie Shaffer hit a sacrifice fly to left, driving home Souza with the Rays' fourth run. More >
"That's what he does every day. It's expected now. This is the guy you want up in those situations." -- Smoak, on Donaldson
SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS
• The Rays lost for only the eighth time this season when leading after seven innings (62-8).
• The Blue Jays recorded their 27th sellout of the season -- their 12th in a row and the 20th over their last 21 games -- with 47,287 fans in attendance. That brought the season total to 2,794,891, the most since 1995.
Mahtook swiped third base in the eighth inning, but the Blue Jays wanted to take a second look to ensure his foot didn't come off the bag after Donaldson applied the tag. After a three-minute, 32-second review, the call on the field was upheld.
Rays: After an off-day on Monday, the Rays will welcome the Marlins to Tropicana Field on Tuesday at 7:10 p.m. ET. They'll send Matt Moore (2-4, 6.48) to the mound. The left-hander is on a roll, after recording quality starts against the Orioles and Red Sox. He has allowed two runs over his last 13 2/3 innings.
Blue Jays: Marco Estrada takes the mound, as the Blue Jays begin their last road trip of the regular season on Monday at 7:05 p.m. ET in Baltimore. Estrada has allowed more than five hits only twice in his last 11 starts, and has surrendered two earned runs over his last 14 2/3 innings. He hasn't given up a homer during that span.
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