Major League Baseball

Jays riding high into series finale vs. Rays

RAYS (59-48) AT BLUE JAYS (40-66)
1:07 p.m. ET; SN, TVAS, OMNI, FS-SUN, MLB.TV

The Toronto Blue Jays will have momentum on their side Sunday afternoon when they host the Tampa Bay Rays in the rubber match of a three-game series.

Toronto defeated Tampa Bay 10-9 in 12 innings Saturday on the first career walk-off homer by Teoscar Hernandez.

Tampa Bay had built a 9-2 lead by the top of the sixth, but Toronto chipped away and tied the game with four ninth-inning runs, on Vladimir Guerrero Jr.’s three-run homer and Brandon Drury’s second solo homer of the game. Hernandez also finished with two homers.

Just as impressive was the Blue Jays’ bullpen, which retired the final 21 Rays batters.

“We battled the whole game,” Hernandez said. “We didn’t put our heads down. I think that it’s always been like that. We always try to fight in the game, to get back, and that’s what we did today.”

The Rays have won six of the eight games between the teams this season, including the series opener Friday night.

The Blue Jays will start right-hander Aaron Sanchez (3-14, 6.06 ERA) Sunday against Rays right-hander Yonny Chirinos (8-5, 3.29).

Sanchez will try to end his streak of 13 consecutive losing decisions by winning for the first time since April 27.

He has been encouraged by recent outings, particularly his five-inning, no-decision performance Tuesday against the Cleveland Indians won 2-1 in 10 innings by the Blue Jays.

He allowed one run, five hits and no walks while striking out six in that game.

“Rome wasn’t built in a day,” Sanchez said. “Patience is a virtue, and it sucks that for me I was at the top of the game, and now I’m at the bottom. And it just makes the story that much greater in the end.”

Sanchez left with a fingernail issue in an 8-3 loss to Chirinos on May 27 after allowing one run in three innings. He is 2-3 with a 2.02 ERA in 16 career games (eight starts) against the Rays.

Chirinos has pitched at least five innings in all of his 15 starts this season. Including his five runless innings in the win over Toronto in May, he is 3-4 with 3.36 ERA in his past 11 outings. He is 2-0 with a 3.32 ERA in four career outings (one start) against Toronto, including 1-0 with 4.50 ERA in three relief appearances at the Rogers Centre.

Rays catcher Travis d’Arnaud continued his hot hitting Saturday, going 2-for-5 with a walk and a three-run homer. He started at first base and returned to catcher in the 12th on Saturday.

He has 12 homers this year, all in 33 games since June 6. He is batting .323 (20-for-62) with seven homers and 21 RBIs in 17 games in July.

The former Blue Jays minor leaguer, who played in the majors mostly with the New York Mets, was obtained in May from the Los Angeles Dodgers.

“I don’t know where we’d be (without him),” Rays manager Kevin Cash said. “He just picks us up it seems like every night. Every other night he’s coming up with a big hit, and he’s doing it with guys on base, which we’ve talked about has not been our strength.”

Rays outfielder Avisail Garcia left the game Saturday in the fourth because of illness.

The Blue Jays put catcher Luke Maile (left oblique strain incurred during batting practice) on the injured list before the game Saturday and called up catcher Reese McGuire from Triple-A Buffalo. McGuire made his major league debut behind the plate in the 12th inning.

–Field Level Media

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