ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (AP) — It was a single for almost anyone else. It was a double for Kevin Kiermaier, whose speed in the bottom of 10th inning produced the run to cap Tampa Bay’s big comeback.
Kiermaier scored on a wild pitch with two outs and the Rays came back from a six-run deficit to beat the Toronto Blue Jays 7-6 on Tuesday night for their seventh victory in eight games.
Kiermaier led off the 10th by stretching a hit into a double off Buddy Bosher (0-2), and scored the game-ending run after a walk and Willy Adames’ bunt. First baseman Brandon Drury fielded the bunt and threw to third in an unsuccessful attempt to force Kiermaier. After two strikeouts, Bosher’s pitch to Austin Meadows bounced through catcher Danny Jansen and Kiermaier scored.
“They must have been shifting me to left-center-ish, and I liked my chances right away,” Kiermaier said of his leadoff hit. “Any time you go to extra innings and you can lead off an inning with an extra-base hit, that’s great. I knew my speed was going to get me there safe and sound.”
Diego Castillo (2-6) got the win after one inning of relief.
Avisail Garcia, Willy Adames and Meadows hit two-run homers off Blue Jays starter Trent Thornton in the fourth inning, quickly erasing a six-run Toronto lead.
“It’s crazy that we came back, especially all in one inning,” Kiermaier said. “What we did that fourth inning was nothing short of amazing.”
Meadows’ homer was his 19th of the season, and his third homer and sixth hit in seven career at-bats against Thornton.
“Austin Meadows has my number, so I’m going to have to figure something out to get him out,” Thornton said. “It just came down to three pitches really that were over the heart of the plate. They weren’t well executed at all. I’ve got to learn from it and move on.”
It was the third time in the last four Blue Jays-Rays meetings in which a team came back from a deficit of six or more runs to win. The Blue Jays came back from 9-2 down to beat the Rays 10-9 in 12 innings on July 27. The Rays came back to win 10-9 the following day after trailing 8-1.
“When you’re down 6-0, you’ve got to have a lot of things go your way,” Rays manager Kevin Cash said.
The Blue Jays led 6-0 on Tuesday after Drury’s three-run homer off Rays opener Andrew Kittredge in the second, Cavan Biggio’s solo homer off reliever Ryan Yarbrough in the third, and two additional runs aided by errors in the fourth. Drury’s homer was his 13th and Biggio hit his 10th.
Kittredge pitched two innings, getting all six of his outs on strikeouts, including the first five batters he faced.
BICHETTE’S HITS (AND RECORDS) KEEP COMING
With his double in the seventh inning, Blue Jays rookie Bo Bichette became the first player in major league history to get 10 extra-base hits in the first nine games of his career.
Pete Alonso of the New York Mets (2019), Trevor Story of Colorado (2016) and Alvin Davis of Seattle (1984) each had nine extra-base hits in their first nine games.
Bichette also set a franchise record with a third-inning single, becoming the first Blue Jay to get a hit in each of his first nine games.
Bichette, who has 17 hits in his first nine games, tied another Toronto record with the double in the seventh, marking the seventh straight game in which he has doubled.
“When I hear stuff like that, I start thinking of Clemente, Babe Ruth, all those guys that have played in the big leagues. That’s amazing,” said Toronto manager Charlie Montoyo. “I’m glad I was here to watch. It’s a pretty good record. A lot of good players have played this game already.”
WHAT’S IN A NAME?
Cash’s uniform nickname for Players’ Weekend later this month is “Rocco’s Seat Warmer,” a reference to former Tampa Bay coach and current Minnesota manager Rocco Baldelli. Cash said he doesn’t know where it came from and added with a smile that “I won’t be wearing it, so I’m not overly concerned.”
Blue Jays: RHP Ken Giles will not pitch in back-to-back games until further notice, manager Charlie Montoyo said. ... The Blue Jays are awaiting an evaluation by Dr. James Andrews before determining a plan for LHP Ryan Borucki, who is back on the injured list with left elbow inflammation. Borucki has appeared in only two games in 2019.
Rays: All-Star 2B Brandon Lowe, out since July 3 with a bruised right shin bone, started agility drills and ramped up his defensive work. ... INF Joey Wendle (right wrist inflammation) added throwing after fielding grounders. ... 3B Yandy Diaz (bruised left foot) resumed taking grounders. ... LHP Jose Alvarado (right oblique strain) (added stats) for Triple-A Durham in his second rehab game and is scheduled to pitch again Wednesday.
Rookie LHP Brendan McKay will make his sixth start for the Rays in the series finale against Blue Jays opener Wilmer Font (3-2). McKay (2-1) survived a 27-pitch first inning to get his second win Thursday at Boston.