Mejia’s home run slams Jays, extends streak

by Gary Shelton on May 22, 2021

in general

Choi's pinch-hit homer tied the game./CHUCK MULLER

Saturday, 4 a.m.

Too bad he's gone. Willy Adames would have enjoyed this one.

He would have spent the night on the top step of the Rays' dugout, embracing this player and that one. He would have lifted the helmet from the head of Brandon Lowe, then Lowe again, then Ji-Man Choi. He would have poured Gatorade over Francisco Mejia. And he would have grinned at the team's 13th comeback win of the season.

Alas, the Rays were left to celebrate on their own, beating the Toronto Blue Jays 9-7 in 12 innings. The game came just hours after the Rays traded Adames to Milwaukee.

Content beyond this point is for members only.

Already a member? To view the rest of this column, sign in using the handy "Sign In" button located in the upper right corner of the blog (it's at the far right of the navigation bar under Gary's photo)!

Not a member? It's easy to subscribe so you can view the rest of this column and all other premium content on

Still, there was plenty to celebrate as the Rays won in Dunedin. Mejia hit a grand slam in the top of the 12th -- only his second home run of the year -- to snap a 5-5 tie and keep the team's offense rolling. The homer came on the fifth pitch Mejia saw from Jeremy Beasley.

“It was a pretty special moment,” Tampa Bay manager Kevin Cash said. “Off the bat we knew it was no-doubter.”

Said Mejia: "I was just trying to feel relaxed and comfortable. He (Beasley) just gave me a good pitch to hit. We were looking for that big hit. I've been there waiting for that at bat for a while. Luckily, the result turned out the right way."

Once again, the Rays scored nine runs -- all on home runs -- to beat the Jays.

Mejia's slam was the Rays' fourth of the night. Lowe had two -- both off left-handed pitchers -- and Choi had one. Lowe entered the game with only two hits (in 45 at bats) against lefties. A year ago, he had hit .300 (15 for 50) against lefties, which helps to explain Cash's insistence on playing him.

The Rays fell behind 3-0, largely because starter Tyler Glasnow was so far off his game. Glasnow lasted only 4 2/3 innings and gave up nine hits and five earned runs. He also gave up three homers. He has now given up 10 homers, all in his last six outings.

"I saw Glas being out of sync from the get-go," Cash said. "It wasn't his best, I think Glas would admit that. But the lack of strikeouts (two), I think you pull from that Toronto has a lot of good hitters. "

The Rays were saved by their bullpen, however. Six relievers -- Jeffrey Springs, Andrew Kittredge, Pete Fairbanks, Ryan Thompson, Collin McHugh and Diego Castillo -- shut down the high-powered Toronto Blue Jays. They pitched for 7 1/3 innings, and the only runs they gave up was Castillo's two-run homer to Vlad Guerrero in the bottom of the 12th.

"I can’t rave enough about what our bullpen did today," Cash said. "To keep it right there and give us every opportunity..."

The bullpen, coming in, had a 3.57 ERA, 8th in the majors and 4th in the American League That included a 2.45 ERA in the 26 games since April 23, reducing its season ERA from 5.40 to 3.57.

The Rays play the Blue Jays again tonight in Dunedin at 7:37 p.m. Shane McClanahan will pitch for Tampa Bay against Robbie Ray of Toronto.


Previous post:

Next post: