Big bats show up on Sunday as Blue Jays earn series split in Tampa
Photo credit:© Mike Watters-USA TODAY Sports
By Evan Stack4 months ago
When George Springer was signed by the Toronto Blue Jays, one of his biggest additions to the Blue Jays organization was his performance in big games. His contributions to three AL West titles, five playoff appearances, and two World Series appearances with the Houston Astros brought a wealth of successful culture to a team loaded with young talent.
Fast forward to September 2022, with the Jays in the heat of a playoff race, looking to split a series at the Trop, facing one of the AL’s best in Shane McClanahan. Springer did what earned him the $150 million contract, as he posted a 3-for-4 day with two home runs and three RBIs. Springer’s day, as well as homers from Teoscar Hernandez and Alejandro Kirk propelled the Blue Jays to a 7-1 drubbing of the Tampa Rays on Sunday afternoon.
Toronto earned the split of the four-game series down at the Trop, maintaining the two-game lead they had over Tampa Bay when the series started. Thankfully, the Blue Jays don’t play the Rays anymore in the regular season, however a Wild Card round matchup in the postseason is looking more and more likely as the days go on.
A split in Tampa equates to a series win in any Blue Jays fan’s book, but more importantly, it leaves the fanbase with a better taste in their mouth at the end of the series than what they had after the first two games of this set.
The Jays got to McClanahan early, as Kirk started the scoring in the second inning with a solo home run, his first since hitting one against the Cubs on August 31st.
Springer’s first of two home runs came in the following inning, a 2-run shot that scored Raimel Tapia, who had a quietly good day at the bottom of the order going 2-for-4.
The Rays got on the board in the bottom of the 3rd, as Randy Arozarena scored Taylor Walls on a sac fly, but that was all the Tampa Bay offense had to show for.
Springer smashed his second home run of the game in the 5th inning to deep center field, tagging the fourth and final run to McClanahan, who has been in the Cy Young conversation almost all season. With today’s performance, Springer also set the Blue Jays record for RBIs from the leadoff spot with 71.
Ross Stripling was the starter for the Blue Jays, and he was able to secure his ninth win of the season despite dancing around several Rays baserunners. He stranded two in the first inning, as well as two more in the third, with Matt Chapman snagging a sharp Isaac Paredes ground ball with two outs in the latter.
All told, Stripling pitched five innings of one-run ball, allowing six hits and three strikeouts.
With the Jays leading 4-1 in the 8th inning, Teoscar Hernandez provided some insurance with an absolute nuke to left field for a 2-run home run. Hernandez’ 22nd of the season traveled 464 feet, leaving zero doubt off the bat. Personal anecdote here, but no current Blue Jays home run sound off the bat sounds better than Teoscar’s, although there are many options. This one was a perfect example.
Vladimir Guerrero Jr. cashed in a leadoff triple from Tapia in the 9th inning, completing the 7-1 score.
The bullpen was effective with four of the low-leverage guys, as Zach Pop, Adam Cimber, Trevor Richards, and Yusei Kikuchi combined to allow only one hit and one walk over four innings of work.
The season now only has 9 games left, with three against the Yankees starting tomorrow. Any chance the Jays have of somehow stealing the division from New York starts then, with Toronto needing a sweep to aid them. Aaron Judge comes to town looking to break the single-season home run record, still sitting on 60 for the season. Kevin Gausman gets the go tomorrow night, with Luis Severiano serving as the opposition.
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