The Blue Jays Hang on Against the Rays

That right there was the prime example of nail-biting, intense, meaningful baseball in September for the Toronto Blue Jays.

It was yet another very nerve-racking game and narrow win for the Blue Jays as they edged the Tampa Bay Rays 3-2 in their series opener on Monday night. The closeness of the game being very reminiscent of the Jays slight 3-2 win over the Red Sox this past Saturday.

Anyway, so the Blue Jays didn’t gain any ground on the division lead, but they did continue to distance themselves away from the Wild Card pack with a very much-needed win.


And it went down to the very final out; an extremely loud out which narrowly changed the entire complexion of the game. But much like Kevin Pillar, the Blue Jays hung in there in stuck it out.

You’re beginning to see why it’s fruitless to stress or worry about losses in April, May or even June. Fans are absolutely allowed to live-and-die by each win or loss in September because these games really do mean something for the Blue Jays.

Although the Tampa Bay Rays are a team which is officially out of the playoff race, the fear is that the Jays would run into a tough Tampa Bay team which can throw some decent pitching at the Blue Jays. The Rays always pitch the Jays tough, as evidenced by Jake Orodizzi’s okay outing.

Credit to Francisco Liriano for going pitch-by-pitch with Jake Odorozzi, even though Liriano was pitching on 17 days rest out of the starting rotation. Despite surrendering two solo home runs, Liriano looked solid in his first start since August 26th.

What a wild swing emotions is was between the bottom of the sixth inning and the top of the seventh. Up until that point, the Blue Jays collected a pair of doubles, but failed to cash in their runners in scoring position. Then the Jays hit ball-after-ball into the gloves of the Rays as the Blue Jays’ old habits crept in again.

But then there was Jose Bautista to save the day. As he’s done many times before (but hasn’t in a very long time), Bautista came up with the clutch home run to put the Blue Jays ahead. And with the way Liriano was dealing, the Jays practically had this in the bag.

Before the excitement from Bautista’s home run barely wore off, there was Evan Longoria and Brad Miller with back-to-back home runs. The elation sounded like it was completely sucked out of the Rogers Centre and that’s when the nervous shakes kicked in again.

Of all people, it was Ezequiel Carrera who came in and delivered the go-ahead pinch hit home run, on the very first pitch of his at bat. I find it funny that he connected on the very first pitch he saw, because if anything, the Blue Jays have been guilty lately of taking too many good pitches.


And then Roberto Osuna closed it out in a confusing and tense manner. First he thought the game was over after a foul tip, and then it nearly wasn’t as Steven Souza Jr. struck a ball deep to centre field, but Kevin Pillar came in and made the catch.

The post-game fracas was one which erupted quite quickly, but Russell Martin and Steven Souza Jr. were quick to throw any cold water on the confrontation as they chalked it up to a simple misunderstanding.

I think my favourite part of the whole incident was how Troy Tulowitzki jumped in without hesitation and began defending his teammate immediately. Tulo doesn’t often speak on the field like that, but when he does … people listen.

So, it’s another win for the Blue Jays and at least they gained some ground on the Baltimore Orioles in the Wild Card. However, the Orioles could do the Blue Jays a solid an maybe win one or two of those games at Fenway Park.


Ian Hunter

Ian has been writing about the Toronto Blue Jays since 2007. He enjoyed the tail-end of the Roy Halladay era and vividly remembers the Alex Rodriguez "mine" incident. He'll also retell the story of Game 5 of the 2015 ALDS to his kids for the next 20 years.