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Casali's walk-off lifts Rays over Blue Jays

April 30, 2016

ST. PETERSBURG -- Curt Casali's RBI single in the bottom of the ninth gave the Rays a 4-3 walk-off win over the Blue Jays on Saturday night at Tropicana Field.Brad Miller led off the ninth with an infield single off Brett Cecil and moved to third on Kevin Kiermaier's double

ST. PETERSBURG -- Curt Casali's RBI single in the bottom of the ninth gave the Rays a 4-3 walk-off win over the Blue Jays on Saturday night at Tropicana Field.
Brad Miller led off the ninth with an infield single off Brett Cecil and moved to third on Kevin Kiermaier's double to right. Casali then laced a 3-1 offering into left to give the Rays the win.
"Curt Casali, I don't know if he needed that hit more, or we needed that hit more," said Rays manager Kevin Cash of the catcher, who entered the game hitting .136. "But it worked out for both of us. Curt's been grinding. He's been doing such a good job with our pitchers. And you want that reward for him to go up there and contribute offensively. And it was good that he did. We wanted to win it right there, and good for Curt."
Faith in Casali pays off for Cash, Rays
Jose Bautista gave the Blue Jays the lead with a two-run homer in the third off Rays starter Chris Archer. Logan Forsythe cut the lead in half with an RBI single in the bottom half of the inning before Evan Longoria tied the game with a solo home run in the sixth.

Kevin Pillar homered off Enny Romero in the top of the seventh to give the Blue Jays a one-run lead, but Forsythe hit a solo home run off J.A. Happ in the bottom half of the inning to tie the game at 3.

"Obviously frustration in the seventh, being a pitch away," said Happ, who allowed three runs on six hits over 6 2/3 innings with seven strikeouts. "I was able to get out of a couple tough spots tonight but a frustrating ending to my night in particular. Ball got away from me, leaked over the middle, middle up, and he did a good job getting the bat on it."
Logan's run in April ends with a bang
Bullpen blows it again: Toronto's bullpen has been a weakness during the first month of the season and it was exposed again Saturday night. Cecil surrendered a leadoff infield single in the bottom of the ninth to Miller because he was late covering the bag. Kiermaier then doubled on a ball that Bautista took a bad route on in right field, which put runners on second and third for Casali's walk-off single.
"We didn't get an out, plain and simple," Blue Jays manager John Gibbons said of the play at first. "Cecil falls off naturally to the left side, but he still needs to get there, and I thought [Justin] Smoak had a shot, too. Big play, leading off the ninth inning." More >
Pillar of strength: Pillar picked a good time for his first homer of the year when he broke a 2-2 tie in the seventh with a solo shot to right-center. The ball was projected to travel 424 feet from home plate, according to Statcast™, and it left his bat at 106 mph. Pillar struggled earlier this year out of the leadoff spot, but since being moved to the bottom third of the order he is batting .349 (15-for-43) over his last 12 games.

Bautista blast: Toronto struggled to get any kind of offense going against Archer, but Bautista did provide an instant spark in the third with a two-run shot to left. According to Statcast™, Bautista's fifth of the year was projected to travel 338 feet from home plate and it left his bat at 92 mph, but he found a way to sneak it over the short wall in left. It was Bautista's 29th career homer against the Rays and his second against Archer.
Archer hangs tough: Archer didn't get off to the start he would have liked, walking four and allowing a two-run homer to Bautista in the first three innings. In doing so, he threw 61 pitches. But he righted his ship, retiring the final eight batters he faced to come away with a six-inning no-decision in which he allowed just one hit. He also set a Rays club record for strikeouts for the month of April by striking out four to put him at 43. David Price (2014) and Drew Smyly (2016) shared the record with 41 prior to Saturday.

"Sooner or later you have to win some close games, for crying out loud. There's no secret about that. Some teams do it." -- Gibbons, on the Blue Jays dropping to 6-9 in one-run games this season
"Once I hit it … I was just putting my head down running." -- Miller, on his infield single in the ninth
Brandon Guyer just can't get out of the way of a pitched ball. The Rays outfielder got hit by a pitch for the sixth time this season when Happ did the deed in the seventh. Guyer leads the Major Leagues in this category, which is familiar territory since he led the American League last season by getting hit 24 times.
Gibbons lost a key challenge in the bottom of the ninth inning. Miller hit a dribbler to first base, Smoak fielded it, but Cecil was late covering the bag. That forced Smoak to try and make the out himself, but Miller touched the bag before Smoak's foot did and he was ruled safe. Gibbons challenged the call made by first-base umpire Tom Hallion b,ut it was confirmed on replay.

Blue Jays: Right-hander Marcus Stroman (3-0, 4.37) will make his sixth start of the year when the Blue Jays close out their three-game series vs. the Rays at 1:10 p.m. ET on Sunday at Tropicana Field. Stroman got the start on Opening Day against Tampa Bay and allowed three runs over eight strong innings. He has been the victim of a shoddy bullpen and was forced to take a no-decision during his last outing despite leaving with a 5-1 lead vs. the White Sox.
Rays:Jake Odorizzi (0-1, 3.58) makes his second start against the Blue Jays this season on Sunday. The right-hander is showing maturity in the way he's been able to pitch on the nights when he does not have his good stuff, in addition to his improved ability to limit the damage in potentially big innings.
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Bill Chastain has covered the Rays for since 2005.

Gregor Chisholm has covered the Blue Jays for since 2011. Follow him on Twitter @gregorMLB and Facebook, and listen to his podcast.