Back-to-back-to-back doubles lift Jays over Rays

TORONTO — Bo Bichette, Vladimir Guerrero Jr. and Alejandro Kirk scored three straight doubles as the Blue Jays swept 9-2 past the Tampa Bay Rays on Friday in Toronto’s first Canada Day home game since 2019.

The Blue Jays played most of the 2020 and 2021 seasons in Dunedin, Florida and Buffalo, NY due to COVID-19 regulations.

Lourdes Gurriel Jr. had a solo home run in the seventh for Toronto (44-33) and George Springer hit two runs with a single in the sixth.

José Berríos (6-4) allowed two runs with eight hits and two walks over five innings. He had three strikeouts.

Trent Thornton, Sergio Romo and Max Castillo came on as relief for the Blue Jays.

Hitter-designate Harold Ramirez had an RBI double as Tampa Bay (40-36) lost its fourth straight game.

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Corey Kluber (3-5) lasted just three innings, giving up five runs with seven hits and two walks.

Phoenix Sanders and David McKay, who had given up four runs, came out of the Rays’ bullpen. Right fielder Brett Phillips threw Tampa’s last frame.

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Tampa Bay opened the scoring in the second inning when catcher René Pinto landed in third but gave Ramirez enough time to score.

Bichette, Guerrero and Kirk opened the game for Toronto with three consecutive RBI doubles in the third inning.

Bichette came to the plate with loaded bases and slammed a double off the wall in right field to hit Gurriel and Cavan Biggio.

In the next spot, Guerrero doubled down the left field line to bring in Springer and Bichette.

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That got Kirk on the plate with the sold-out crowd of 44,445, who chanted “MVP” for the top vote collector among American League catchers in All-Star Elections.

His strike also went across the left field line to give Guerrero a 5-1 lead.

Ramirez swept away Toronto’s lead for the fifth time, doubling into deep left midfield to give Kevin Kiermaier enough time to score from first base.

Springer started more runs for the Blue Jays in the sixth inning when his hit went past Ray’s third baseman Yandy Diaz and fell for a single. This gave Gurriel and Santiago Espinal a 7-2 lead.

Guerrero’s groundout then brought Biggio home from third place for the Toronto first baseman’s third RBI of the game.

Gurriel came out in the eighth inning with two outs and no one on the plate.

He brought McKay’s 79.4 mph curveball into left center field for a 9-2 lead.

Although thousands of fans had already left the Rogers Center with the game under control, the remaining crowd sang an impromptu version of “O Canada” in the top of the ninth as Castillo finished the game.

O CANADA! – The Rogers Center was decked out in red and white in celebration of Canada Day, with flags hanging from the second deck in midfield and all scoreboards in the national colours. The first 15,000 fans to attend the game received free red Blue Jays jerseys with Springer’s name on the back. The team said all shirts were issued within 30 minutes of the stadium gates opening two hours before the game.

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MARTIN HONORED — Former Blue Jays catcher Russell Martin threw out the opening spot. Born in Toronto and raised in Montreal, Martin has made four All-Star appearances in his 14 years in Major League Baseball. He played four seasons with the Blue Jays, including the team’s postseason runs in 2015 and 2016.

UP NEXT — Kevin Gausman (6-6) will take the mound for Toronto in the first game of the Blue Jays doubleheader with Tampa Bay on Saturday afternoon. Shane McClanahan will get the start for the Rays. Neither team has announced a starter for the second game.

This report from The Canadian Press was first published on July 1, 2022.

© 2022 The Canadian Press Back-to-back-to-back doubles lift Jays over Rays


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