DUNEDIN, Fla. (AP)Francisco Mejia hit a grand slam in the 12th inning and the Tampa Bay Rays won their eighth consecutive game by beating the Toronto Blue Jays 9-7 on Friday night.
After Jeremy Beasley (0-1) intentionally walked Joey Wendle to load the bases, Mejia drove the next pitch over the right-field wall.
”It was a pretty special moment,” Tampa Bay manager Kevin Cash said. ”Off the bat we knew it was no-doubter.”
Diego Castillo (1-2), who worked 1 1/3 innings, allowed Vladimir Guerrero Jr. second homer of the game, a two-run drive in the 12th.
”It was an emotional roller-coaster in the dugout, for sure,” Cash said.
Brandon Lowe homered twice, and Ji-Man Choi had a pinch-hit homer for the Rays, who stayed one-game behind AL East leading Boston.
Tampa Bay has hit three or more homers in five consecutive games, the longest stretch in team history and one shy of the major league record set by the 1987 Baltimore Orioles.
The Rays have scored seven runs or more in six consecutive games, It’s the longest streak in the majors since Cleveland’s six-game run from May 26-31, 2018.
Toronto’s Marcus Semien came within a single of hitting for the cycle. Castillo struck him out with the bases loaded and two outs in the 11th.
”I was thinking, that would have been a great story,” Blue Jays manager Charlie Montoyo said. ”To get the single to get the cycle and win the game. ”
The Rays tied it at 5 on Choi’s two-run homer off A.J. Cole in the sixth.
Guerrero and Teoscar Hernandez had first inning RBI singles against Tyler Glasnow, who allowed five runs and nine hits over 42 /3 innings and had his ERA jump from 2.35 to 2.90.
After Mejia couldn’t track down a wind-blown foul ball behind the plate, Semien made it 3-0 on a run-scoring triple in the second.
Lowe hit a two-run drive during the third off Anthony Kay but Guerrero connected on his 12th homer later in the inning to put Toronto up 4-2.
Guerrero has an extra-base hit in seven straight games
Lowe’s and Semien both had fifth-inning solo homers.
Kay allowed two runs, four hits, four walks and struck out over four innings. The lefty was pulled after throwing 91 pitches.
The Rays made a trade before the game, sending shortstop Willy Adames and right-hander Trevor Richards to the Milwaukee Brewers for right-hander’s J.P. Feyereisen and RH Drew Rasmussen. Tampa Bay played short-handed with 24 players instead of the normal 26 following completion of the deal.
”It definitely started out like a big blow to everybody,” Lowe said. ”It’s a lot of heart and soul coming out of the clubhouse that Willy brought every day. To walk out with a win today, especially in the way that it happened, definitely lifted spirits.”
The Rays home stadium, Tropicana Field, is about 25 miles away from TD Ballpark, where the Blue Jays are playing their third and final homestand at their spring training facility before relocating to Buffalo, New York.
It means the Tampa Bay players can stay home during the four-game series.
”It’s awesome,” said Rays left-hander Shane McClanahan, Saturday night’s scheduled starter. ”It beats any hotel. It’s always great to stay home, that sense of comfort.”
The Blue Jays are not allowed to play in Toronto due to COVID-19 travel restrictions in Canada.
Blue Jays: 3B Cavan Biggio was a late scratch due to neck soreness, but hit a fielder’s choice with the bases loaded in the 11th as a pinch-hitter. . LF Lourdes Gurriel Jr. (left knee contusion) was out of the lineup for the second consecutive day but was available off the bench.
McClanahan (1-0) will face Blue Jays LHP Robbie Ray (2-1) Saturday night.
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