ST. PETERSBURG, Florida - Surely the Blue Jays were double checking their surroundings after Monday night's stunning, come-from-behind, 8-7 win over the Rays.
Good things – wins included – rarely happen at Tropicana Field. Heck, this park has been Toronto's kryptonite since the Rays were the Devil Rays.
"I mean it's definitely huge," said J.P. Arencibia, the biggest Blue Jays' hero on a night when there were many. "They always play us well and they play everybody well for that fact. They've got a great pitching staff over there and usually when they put seven on the board they're usually going to have a pretty good night. Fortunately we were able to come back and answer and swing the bats."
It was Arencibia's two-out, two-run home run in the ninth off Rays' closer Fernando Rodney that turned a 7-6 deficit into an 8-7 lead. It was the coup de grace; for the Blue Jays had begun to chip away much earlier after Mark Buehrle spotted the Rays the game's first seven runs in a disastrous third inning.
Colby Rasmus hit a two-run home run and Melky Cabrera had an RBI single to get three back in the fourth. Mark DeRosa, pinch hitting for Munenori Kawasaki in the sixth, dropped a fly ball just over the other side of the right field wall to cut the deficit to 7-5. A Jose Bautista sacrifice fly reduced the Rays' lead to one in the eighth.
Cue Arencibia, whose game-changing home run came in his third at-bat after he'd pinch hit for starter Henry Blanco in the sixth.
"He throws hard," Arencibia said of Rodney. "So I was ready for his fastball and wanted to just hit it. I was able to put a good swing on it; you know when I hit it and I kind of saw how good I hit it I knew that it was going to get out of the park."
Buehrle, a laid back type whose experience and winning pedigree enables him to compartmentalize a bad outing, is growing tired of his repeated struggles.
"If it keeps on happening for a little bit longer, then yeah, it's going to be frustrating," he said. "I mean it's frustrating now but it's going to be even more frustrating because I feel like I'm not doing anything to help these guys win. You know they're out their battling and I didn't get the loss and we came back and battled. But to me I'm not doing my job of giving us a chance to win out there. I know I went six innings but a seven-spot in one inning, that's kind of embarrassing."
Manager John Gibbons was eager to see his club build off of Sunday's 10-2 win over the Mariners. He didn't envision winning in such dramatic fashion.
"I really don't know how to describe that one, you know down big early," said Gibbons. "We hung in there, some big hits like you said and I don't want to say we were due but in a lot of ways we were due. But you don't expect it to happen that way."
- The Blue Jays have won back-to-back games for just the second time this season (April 12-13 at Kansas City.)
- J.P. Arencibia began the game on the bench, marking the first time this season he wasn't in the opening lineup for a game not started by R.A. Dickey. Arencibia wasn't happy but deferred to his manager to explain the decision.
"Just want to run one game like that and see," said John Gibbons before the game. "You know, Mark (Buehrle,) it's been a tough go for him and we'll just change up the catcher and see if that does anything."
Given Buehrle's struggles in the third inning, it's safe to say the change at catcher had little effect on the pitcher's success.
- With the victory, the Blue Jays snapped an eight-game losing streak at Tropicana Field and a five-game, overall, winless skid against the Rays.
- From the strange-but-true file: Mark DeRosa's sixth inning home run came on an 0-2 count. DeRosa, whose played parts of 16 seasons in the majors and has hit 96 career home runs, had never gone deep on an 0-2 count in his career.
Ricky Romero makes his second start of the season for the Blue Jays.
Tampa Bay counters with right-hander Roberto Hernandez (formerly of the Indians and who you may better remember as Fausto Carmona.)