Globe iconLogin iconRecap iconSearch iconTickets icon

Late power burst leads Rays to victory

April 28, 2017

TORONTO -- The Rays hit three home runs in the top of the eighth inning to rip a victory away from the Blue Jays and complete a dramatic come-from-behind win on Friday night at Rogers Centre.Corey Dickerson, Evan Longoria and Logan Morrison all went deep in the eighth off three

TORONTO -- The Rays hit three home runs in the top of the eighth inning to rip a victory away from the Blue Jays and complete a dramatic come-from-behind win on Friday night at Rogers Centre.
Corey Dickerson, Evan Longoria and Logan Morrison all went deep in the eighth off three different Toronto pitchers in a 7-4 win. The Blue Jays entered the inning leading 3-1, but could not hold the lead. Instead, they blew their Major League-high eighth save in 12 opportunities this season.

"I think to be a good team, you have to find a way to win close games on the road," Rays manager Kevin Cash said. "Tonight we did that."

The late offensive eruption overshadowed what had been another dominant start for Toronto right-hander Marcus Stroman. The 25-year-old started the eighth but was removed shortly after surrendering the first of the three Tampa Bay home runs. He was charged with two runs on five hits and two walks while striking out 10 over 7 1/3 innings for his fourth quality start in five outings this season.
Lefty Blake Snell got the start for the Rays but he didn't receive a decision after he allowed two runs over five innings of work. Right-hander Austin Pruitt came on in relief and picked up the victory after he limited the Blue Jays to one run over three innings. Every member of the Rays' starting lineup reached base safely and second baseman Brad Miller was the only one without a hit but he walked twice.
"That was a good one," Longoria said. "We needed that one. It was a good job, Pruitt coming in. ... Great, great job by him. And just a good job overall offensively, staying in the game. Stroman was tough. He pitched us about as good as he could have. He just kind of ran out of pitches."
Rays catcher Derek Norris added a solo homer in the top of the ninth. The four home runs by Tampa Bay tied a season high, as the club also hit four on April 14 in Boston. The Rays finished the game tied with the Rangers for the most home runs in the American League with 31.

The hat trick:
The three home runs hit by the Rays in the eighth inning were all rockets. Dickerson's solo shot off Stroman had an exit velocity of 103.9 mph and was projected to travel 398 feet. Longoria's solo homer off reliever Jason Grilli had an exit velocity of 101.7 and was projected to travel 422 feet. The biggest one of all was saved for last as Morrison unloaded on a pitch from Dominic Leone with an exit velocity of 107 and a projected distance of 428 feet. The ball traveled so far it landed in the WestJet flight deck well above the wall in straightaway center field.
Bullpen blues continue for Toronto
Pillar of strength: Kevin Pillar isn't known for hitting a lot of home runs but he is now tied with Kendrys Morales for the most on Toronto after he hit a solo shot in the bottom of the seventh. According to Statcast™, Pillar's fourth of the year was projected to travel 363 feet and left his bat at 107 mph with a launch angle of 20 degrees. More importantly, the homer just inside the left-field foul pole gave the Blue Jays a much-needed insurance run as it increased their lead to 3-1. Even that proved to be not enough, though, as the Rays erupted in the following frame. Pillar finished a triple shy of the cycle with a 4-for-4 day at the plate, including a pair of doubles.

"He's confident, he's run with that leadoff spot I know that," Blue Jays manager John Gibbons said. "It was a conscious effort to get a little more disciplined at the plate. He knew it, and everybody else knew it would benefit him. It's paying off."
"We didn't win so it's tough to feel any type of way. Just kind of struggling right now with this squad to get wins. But everyone is doing what they need to be doing between each start to make sure they're ready to go out there. It's just a matter of things turning around for us." -- Stroman
Friday night marked the first time in Rays history that they have hit three home runs in an inning in the eighth inning or later.
Pillar reached base five times in the same game for the first time in his career. It was the second time in his career he finished with four hits. Pillar also has reached base safely in 16 consecutive games, which is two off his career high.
Steven Souza Jr. had several highlight reel plays in right field for the Rays, but his best one came in the bottom of the first inning. With a runner on, Darwin Barney hit a hard slicing line drive to right field that looked like it would drop but Souza had other ideas as he came in with a head-first diving grab. According to Statcast™, it was considered a five-star catch as Souza covered 32 feet in 2.8 seconds and the play had a catch probability of 24 percent. Souza also made a running grab to rob Jose Bautista of extra bases in the third and another diving play in the fourth to take a hit away from Devon Travis.
Souza's sterling field day
"They made some great plays," Gibbons said. "Souza a couple of great plays out there. Then the one that Jose took to the right-center-field wall. That can turn the game if you put a few runs up on the board ... They play great defense."

Rays: Right-hander Matt Andriese (1-0, 3.86) will start for the Rays on Saturday afternoon in a 1:07 p.m. ET contest at Rogers Centre. Since the 2016 All-Star break, Andriese has allowed 20 home runs in 83 2/3 innings over 18 appearances (15 starts), and his 2.15 HR/9 IP ratio is third highest in the AL over that span (minimum 50 innings pitched).
Blue Jays: Left-hander Francisco Liriano (1-2, 4.58) will take the mound for the Blue Jays when their series vs. the Rays continues on Saturday afternoon. This will be the second time Liriano faces Tampa Bay this season but the first outing did not go well at all. Liriano could not get out of the first inning and was charged with five runs on three hits and four walks.
Watch every out-of-market regular-season game live on MLB.TV.

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

Bill Chastain has covered the Rays for since 2005.