TORONTO -- It was a reversal of fortunes for the Rays on Sunday at Rogers Centre.
Just one day after Tampa Bay’s bullpen squandered an early seven-run lead -- and a four-run lead heading into the ninth frame -- it was the visitors’ bats that mounted a late-inning comeback against the Blue Jays in the series finale, eventually coming out on top 10-9 to win the three-game set, marking the first time the Rays have ever scored and allowed at least nine runs in back-to-back games.
“It was nice to come back,” manager Kevin Cash said. “You’ve got to separate yesterday for what it was and worry about today’s game. It was really encouraging. You think about where our thoughts were in the dugout two hours ago, they weren’t the most positive thoughts. But give the guys a lot of credit for bouncing back.
“Obviously, a tough loss last night, and they showed the ability to get down and come back, [that] says a lot about this team and how it competes. I’m really impressed with everybody’s performance to get us back and help us win the game.”
The Rays came back from seven runs down for the first time since Aug. 18, 2012, in a 10-8 win over the Angels, according to the Elias Sports Bureau, the official statistician of Major League Baseball. It was the first time in Major League history that a team won after trailing by seven or more runs (which Toronto did Saturday), and then lost its next game after leading by seven or more, according to Elias.
Tampa Bay headed into the sixth inning on Sunday down 8-1. The Rays added three runs in the sixth, two in the seventh and a trio in the eighth to tie up the affair. After being undone by the long ball in the second game of the series, home runs from Ji-Man Choi, Guillermo Heredia and Willy Adames helped the visitors to the opposite fate in Toronto.
“Obviously both games were very hard for both of the teams,” Choi said through interpreter Ha Ram (Sam) Jeong. “Unfortunately we lost yesterday, but it was fortunate enough for us to come back and win the series. We’re all just working hard to play baseball and bring wins to the team.”
Joey Wendle was the man who completed the impressive comeback, the decisive blow an RBI groundout in the ninth by the 29-year-old second baseman. Ahead of Sunday’s win, Wendle was hitting .242/.304/.355 with seven doubles and five RBIs over his past 21 matchups.
“[This win] was equally as big as the loss,” Wendle said. “As discouraging as that loss was, this will get us right back on track.”
Choi paced the lineup with three hits out of the leadoff spot, including his 10th homer of the season. The 28-year-old designated hitter also scored two runs and drove in two. Entering Sunday, Choi had batted .164/.303/.205 with one long ball and seven RBIs over his past 25 games.
“Even though we gave up a lot of runs in the beginning, we always have the mentality where we don’t give up,” Choi said. “We just keep on playing the best we can every inning to bring runs to the team, and hopefully to win the game.”
Four other Rays had multihit games, with Nate Lowe also notching three knocks, Tommy Pham and Matt Duffy each singling twice and Travis d'Arnaud adding a single and a double. Pham left the game after notching his second single in the seventh inning with a right hand sprain. X-rays were negative, and the 31-year-old outfielder is considered day to day.
d’Arnaud continued his hot run in July after setting franchise marks among catchers on Saturday with seven home runs and 21 RBIs in the month. The 30-year-old catcher drove in two more runs on Sunday, giving him the most by any Rays player in any calendar month since Brad Miller (26) and Evan Longoria (25), both in August 2016, and most by any Tampa Bay hitter in July since Aubrey Huff (25) in July ‘05.
The home run from Adames to tie the game in the eighth was his second in as many days. Saturday’s three-run long ball got his squad on the board, while Sunday’s helped the comeback and kept the 23-year-old’s incredible success on the road this season going.
“That tells you how much talent we have here,” Adames said. “That’s how we were winning a lot of games in the beginning of the season, because we don’t give up. We’ve been struggling, but after that tough loss yesterday, we came with energy today. Everybody showed up with energy and the mentality to win the game.
“We were losing by seven and we came back to win this game. That means a lot for us, and I think that can help us to get on that good rhythm and go to Boston and try to sweep the series over there.”