Rays rally, but fall short to homer-happy Blue Jays

by Gary Shelton on August 24, 2017 · 0 comments

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Kevin Kiermaier celebrates on a two-homer night./STEVEN MUNCIE

Kevin Kiermaier celebrates on a two-homer night./STEVEN MUNCIE

Thursday, 3 a.m.

Where the Toronto Blue Jays hit them, the Rays can't catch them.

Wednesday night's latest loss was as simple as a knockout for the Rays. Six different Blue Jay players hit balls over the fence , leading their way to a 7-6 victory over Tampa Bay.

Kevin Pillar's eighth-inning home run off Tommy Hunter broke a 6-6 tie to provide the winning run.

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Logan Morrison argues with the umpire after a strikeout./STEVEN MUNCIE

Logan Morrison argues with the umpire after a strikeout./STEVEN MUNCIE

“If we don’t keep the ball in the ballpark, we are not going to win,” Rays' manager Kevin Cash said. “That was the storyline. Very impressed with the offense. They fought back in, got back in, tied everything up off Marcus Stroman, who is a very tough, talented pitcher. That’s a big positive pull from it, but we have to keep the ball in the ballpark.”

Rays' starter Austin Pruitt got off to a horrible start for the second straight outing. He gave up four home runs and seven hits overall in only 3 2/3 innings. In his last two

Austin Pruitt gave up five in the first two innings./STEVEN MUNCIE

Austin Pruitt gave up five runs in the first two innings./STEVEN MUNCIE

games, Pruitt has given up 11 runs and 18 hits.Over his last three starts, Pruitt has a 7.56 ERA.

After the sloppy start, however, the Rays came back to tie the game at six. Kevin Kiermaier hit two home runs and Steven Souza hit one.

Cash wouldn't second-guess his decision to use Hunter.

“Tommy Hunter has had a tremendous year,” Cash said. “You don’t run away from somebody who has had as much success as Tommy has in our bullpen. Two weeks ago we were all sitting here clamoring about how he is the MVP of the bullpen. That hasn’t changed over a couple of outings. A big home run Smoak hit in Toronto and then a big home run that Pillar hit today. Tommy is good to go tomorrow. He’ll be right back out there again. That home run was not the issue. It was probably the other ones that led up to it.”

Ramos drops to one knee after getting hit on the foot./STEVEN MUNCIE

Ramos drops to one knee after getting hit on the foot./STEVEN MUNCIE

Said Hunter: "I just left a curveball up. Didn’t bounce it. I got to bounce the next one, but in this game you don’t get any do overs. Sucks to put us in that position, but it just sucks. I don’t know what to say. I didn’t get it to where I wanted it to go and he clipped it.”

Souza was not happy despite the comeback.

“There is going to come a point where the battling back and falling short is going to run out of air,” Souza said. “Yeah, it’s great that we fought hard and tied it up, but plain and simple, we need to find a way to win ballgames from here on out. There aren’t moral victories anymore. We are going to dig ourselves too much a

Souza Jr. argues with the umpire after a strike./STEVEN MUNCIE

Souza Jr. argues with the umpire after a strike./STEVEN MUNCIE

hole and we need to do a better job of winning ballgames. There is no one finger to blame. As a unit, we need to figure out how to do it.”

Kiermaier agreed.

“I’m just trying to hit the ball hard,” he said. “Trying not to miss pitches. I’ve been doing a good job of it lately, but at the end of the day, I’m trying to do my part to help the team offensively, defensively and on the bases, but the most important thing to me and the team right now is winning and we let a tough one get away from us tonight. I’m happy with how I’m feeling at the plate, but it’s overshadowed by a loss. A couple rough innings to start off, but our offense did a great job of battling back. Didn’t go our way tonight, but I just want to talk about wins and losses. I feel locked in at the plate, but we need to win these kinds of games.”

The Rays and Jays play the third game of their series today at 1:10 p.m. at the Trop.

Brad Miller gpes airborne to get a double play./STEVEN MUNCIE

Brad Miller goes airborne to get a double play./STEVEN MUNCIE

 

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