Arozarena 6 RBIs, Rays beat Blue Jays, tie for AL WC lead

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Tampa Bay Rays' Randy Arozarena watches his three-run home run against the Toronto Blue Jays during the fifth inning of a baseball game Friday, Sept. 23, 2022, in St. Petersburg, Fla. (AP Photo/Scott Audette)

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. – Randy Arozarena hit his 20th homer and drove in six runs as the Tampa Bay Rays beat Toronto 10-6 Friday night, tying the Blue Jays at the top of the AL wild-card standings.

The win clinched the season series — and the tiebreaker — for the Rays, who have won 10 of 17 against the Blue Jays.

“We’re both trying to get the top wild-card spot,” Arozarena said through a translator. “They got the lead and we were able to come back, and we were able to take advantage there at the end.”

Arozarena's three-run homer gave Tampa Bay a 6-4 lead in the fifth inning. He hit a two-out, two-run single in the eighth off Yimi Garcia (4-5).

“I definitely got more confident after the home run,” said Arozarena, the only player in the majors with 20 homers and 30 stolen bases this season. “I was a little more relaxed and already thinking of hitting the next one. But the home run was big because it put us ahead.”

Javy Guerra (1-0) won in relief.

Bo Bichette and Vladimir Guerrero Jr. hit RBI singles during a four-run fifth off Jeffrey Springs that put the Blue Jays ahead 4-3.

After Arozarena put Tampa Bay ahead, Toronto tied it at 6 in the sixth on George Springer's sacrifice fly.

“You know you need runs against these guys,” Rays manager Kevin Cash said. “They’re a very tough team to keep quiet for nine innings so we’ll take runs any way we can get them.”

Springs struck out six in five innings, giving up four runs and six hits.

Toronto starter Mitch White pitched four innings, giving up three runs and five hits.

Including Thursday night's 10-5 victory, it was the third straight game against Toronto in which the Rays have scored at least 10 runs. They went into this series having scored just two runs in a three-game sweep by the Houston Astros.

“It’s weird here,” Toronto interim manager John Schneider said. “When things don’t go great, it seems to unravel. This is a tough place for a variety of reasons, but we’ve got two really good guys (Alek Manoah and Ross Stripling) going the next two days. It's two good teams playing for a lot right now, and a lot of back and forth, and a couple things didn’t go our way tonight.”

Miles Mastrobuoni, who made his major league debut as a defensive replacement Thursday night for Tampa Bay, singled in the fifth for his first hit.


Blue Jays: OF Lourdes Gurriel Jr, who has been out two weeks with a strained left hamstring, resumed running Friday and might be re-activated next week. . . . INF Santiago Espinal (left oblique strain) will miss at least 10 more days.

Rays: INF Yandy Diaz missed a fourth straight game with a sore left shoulder. . . . LHP Ryan Yarbrough (right oblique strain) was placed on the 15-day injured list. . . . RHP Calvin Faucher was recalled from Triple-A Durham for the fifth time this season.


A leadoff walk of pinch-hitter Ji-Man Choi, a poor throw on a sacrifice fly and an error on shortstop Bichette helped the Rays score four in the eighth.

“It’s a very aggressive team, and I think when they have an opportunity to get free bases, and an opportunity to put the ball in play they can be dangerous,” Schneider said. “I think tonight was a perfect example of of how you kind of play into their strengths. You can’t walk guys and expect good things to happen.”


It was all set up for closer Pete Fairbanks to get his ninth save in nine tries -- until the Rays stretched their lead to four in the eighth. He'll take it.

“To see them (the offense) put together those at-bats in the eighth, and really buckle down and lock it in when we needed it the most,” he said. “There’s been games when we picked them up, and tonight was one where they were able to pick us up and it was great to see.”


RHP Alek Manoah (14-7, 2.40) will pitch Saturday night for the Blue Jays against RHP Drew Rasmussen (10-6, 2.92), who has given up eight runs in his last two starts (both losses) after giving up eight earned runs in his preceding eight starts.


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