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Rays walk off in 11th after early pitching duel

April 8, 2017

ST. PETERSBURG -- Brad Miller's two-out walk with the bases loaded in the bottom of the 11th gave the Rays a 3-2 win over the Blue Jays Saturday night at Tropicana Field.Mallex Smith doubled off Casey Lawrence to start the 11th. Timothy Beckham sacrificed Smith to third. Corey Dickerson and

ST. PETERSBURG -- Brad Miller's two-out walk with the bases loaded in the bottom of the 11th gave the Rays a 3-2 win over the Blue Jays Saturday night at Tropicana Field.
Mallex Smith doubled off Casey Lawrence to start the 11th. Timothy Beckham sacrificed Smith to third. Corey Dickerson and Kevin Kiermaier were then intentionally walked to load the bases for Evan Longoria. Lawrence, who was making his Major League debut, struck out Longoria. Miller then stepped to the plate and took a 3-2 pitch for ball four to drive home the winning run.
Most of the game had been a pitching duel between Toronto's Aaron Sanchez and Tampa Bay's Chris Archer. Neither deserved to lose, and neither did as both came away with no-decisions.

"It was just an outstanding pitching matchup between Arch and their guy," Rays manager Kevin Cash said. "It was fun to watch early on if you're a fan of good pitching, because that was electric stuff. Location and everything that was going on against two good lineups. Just excited that we were able to pull it off."
How good were Sanchez and Archer Saturday night? Well, Archer was perfect through four innings before Kendrys Morales singled to right to leadoff the fifth, and both teams went scoreless through four.

The Rays finally got busy in the fifth when Derek Norris singled to open the inning and moved to second when Mallex Smith walked. Beckham then hit what appeared to be a tailor-made double play, but Smith's rough arrival at second forced a high throw to first by Devon Travis. Dickerson followed with a single through the middle to drive home Norris and put the Rays up, 1-0.

The Blue Jays got something going against Archer in the seventh when Josh Donaldson and Jose Bautista walked to start the inning. When Morales grounded into a 4-6-3 double-play, Archer looked like he might escape unscathed. But Troy Tulowitzki singled through the left side to drive home Donaldson to tie the score.

Donaldson's two-out RBI single off Archer in the eighth scored Russell Martin from third to give the Blue Jays their first lead at 2-1. But the Rays answered in the bottom of the eighth when Steven Souza Jr. singled off Joe Biagini with one out to drive home Brad Miller.

"It's a fun atmosphere when you have two competitive guys out there," Sanchez said of the duel with Archer. "Trying to keep zeros across the board. For us, we'd like to win that game, but we battled until the end and that's what this team is about. We flush today and we'll be back tomorrow."
Smith doubled to start the 11th -- the only extra-base hit of the game, and, fittingly, scored the winning run. The Rays rookie, who was acquired from Seattle in the Drew Smyly trade, caused havoc the entire game. He went 2-for-2, scored a run, walked three times, and stole two bases. Smith had been hurt early in Spring Training, and Cash told reporters the Rays are just now really getting a chance to see what he can do. When asked about his day, Smith smiled: "I call that a blessed day right there."
Donaldson Delivers: Archer had been dealing all night, so the idea that he might escape an eighth-inning jam wasn't hard to fathom even though he had runners at first and third with no outs. But he retired Kevin Pillar on a popup, then struck out Travis to bring Donaldson to the plate. The Blue Jays slugger delivered, threading a single through the middle to put the Blue Jays up, 2-1.

"I wish we could always blink an eye and have two guys on base." -- Cash when discussing the automatic intentional walks issued to Kiermaier and Longoria in the 11th.
"It's been up and down." -- Lawrence when asked to reflect on the last 24 hours after he received his first callup to the big leagues on Saturday morning and later issued the bases-loaded walk.
The Blue Jays have started the season 1-4 for just the third time in franchise history. They did so in 1978 and 2004.
Smith earned a leadoff walk and then with one out, he took off for second base. Martin's throw was late, but Gibbons had a challenge remaining and decided to use it. The hope was that Smith came off the bag, but the replay proved otherwise and after a brief delay the call on the field was confirmed.

Even though they were out of challenges, the umpires agreed to a crew chief review in the top of the 10th. Xavier Cedeno threw a pitch in the dirt that initially was called a ball, but Martin motioned to the dugout that it hit his foot. It went to a replay, but the call on the field stood and Martin walked on the very next pitch.

Blue Jays: Right-hander Marco Estrada (0-0, 3.00) will take the mound for Toronto in the series finale Sunday with a 1:10 p.m ET start time at Tropicana Field. Estrada allowed two runs over six innings during his last start against the Orioles. He has a 2.70 ERA in 10 career outings vs. the Rays.
Rays:Jake Odorizzi (0-1, 6.00) makes his second start of the season as the Rays and Blue Jays wrap up their four-game series on Sunday. Odorizzi has allowed home runs in seven straight starts, the longest streak of his career. He is 3-2 with a 3.26 ERA in 11 career appearances against the Blue Jays.
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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.