Last nights game between Tampa Bay and Toronto was going like so many of the games go between these two ball clubs. The Rays were stealing bases, stringing together timely base hits, and shutting the Blue Jays down with quality pitching. It was just like any other game between these two teams…that is to say, until the bottom of the 9th inning.
With the Blue Jays down 8-2 heading into their last at-bat, the game appeared to be as good as done. By some miracle, Toronto managed to score seven runs in that 9th inning and win 9-8.
To say Tampa Bay is a frustrating team to play against would be putting it mildly. And last night, as they were handing it to the Blue Jays, you could tell their manager, Kevin Cash, was getting a little arrogant. You could see it in his face when John Gibbons called on a left-handed reliever, only for Cash to counter by going to his bench and bringing in a big right-handed bat. Toronto wasn’t just getting out-played, they were getting out-coached, and Cash knew it. Until the Blue Jays erupted for three home runs in the final inning, thus throwing all that cocky attitude right back in Cash’s face.
As satisfying a win as it was, it was made even better given the contributions of Toronto’s youngsters. Whether it be Dwight Smith Jr. getting it all started with a double…Danny Jansen hitting a 3-run shot to make it 8-6…or Lourdes Gurriel Jr. hitting a 2-run homer of his own to tie it all up. These young players could care less that Tampa Bay has had Toronto’s number for years now. As much as Toronto’s rookies contributed to tie-up the ball game, leave it to Justin Smoak and team leader to cap it all off with a solo shot to conclude such a memorable comeback.
A strong combination of young and old. This is what the Blue Jays are and will be for some time yet. Now that many of Toronto’s younger players are getting comfortable in the big leagues, it should make for some exciting baseball come 2019. It’s only one win, but it almost makes up for all the misery the Blue Jays have suffered at the hands of the Rays over the years.