Pinch-hitter Guillermo Heredia homered to cap a five-run burst in the eighth inning and the Tampa Bay Rays beat the Toronto Blue Jays 8-4 Sunday for their fifth straight series victory to start the season.
Tampa Bay improved to 12-4 and matched the 2010 team for the best 16-game start in club history. The Blue Jays have lost seven of nine and haven’t won a series this year.
On a rainy day in Toronto, the grounds crew placed two buckets on the warning track in center field before the game to catch drops of water falling from the roof. Staff came out with towels and blowers to tend to the area again before the bottom of the fourth.
Blue Jays reliever Thomas Pannone became the 89th different pitcher in big league history to strike out the side on nine pitches. He fanned a swinging Avisail Garcia, then got Brandon Lowe and Daniel Robertson looking in the fifth.
Steve Delabar (2013) and Roger Clemens (1997) also achieved the feat for Toronto.
The Rays led 3-2 before breaking away in the eighth against a trio of Toronto relievers. Pinch-hitter Mike Zunino had a two-run single and Heredia added a two-run homer.
Adam Kolarek (1-0) pitched one inning for the victory.
Billy McKinney, who had three hits, and Freddy Galvis homered for the Blue Jays.
Rays right-hander Charlie Morton allowed one run and four hits in 4 2-3 innings. He has yet to give up more than four hits in any of his four starts this season.
Toronto opened the scoring on Galvis’ single in the first but the Rays took advantage of a defensive miscue to tie it in the third. Ji-Man Choi reached with two outs when second baseman Lourdes Gurriel Jr. bounced a routine throw, sending it wide of first base. Choi advanced on a walk and scored on Brandon Lowe’s single.
Gurriel, who also made a throwing error Saturday, was replaced by Alen Hanson the following inning.
Another Blue Jays error set up two runs in the fourth. Kevin Kiermaier ended up at second base on an errant throw by Marcus Stroman (0-3) to begin the inning. Willy Adames reached on an infield single and Michael Perez walked to load the bases before Austin Meadows and Yandy Diaz hit RBI groundouts.
Stroman allowed three runs, none earned, in four innings. He walked four and struck out five.
Rays: OF Tommy Pham got the day off. He has reached safely in a club-record 47 straight games, the longest active streak in the majors.
Blue Jays: RHP Ryan Tepera (right elbow) allowed two runs and two hits, including a home run, in one inning at Triple-A Buffalo, his second rehab outing.
Rays: Tampa Bay is off Monday before beginning a three-game home series against Baltimore on Tuesday. Rays RHP Tyler Glasnow (3-0, 0.53) boasts the AL’s lowest ERA. Baltimore has not announced a starter.
Blue Jays: RHP Matt Shoemaker (3-0, 0.92) starts the opener of a four-game series at Minnesota. He has allowed two earned runs in 19 2-3 innings. LHP Martin Perez (1-0, 7.56) starts for the Twins.