They’ve been dogging him all year, and now Adam Lind is a hero. Lind hit a two-run, walkoff homer off Rafael Soriano in the ninth this afternoon, sending the Jays to a 5-4 win over the Rays and helping avoid a fifth straight loss to close the homestand. The shot, a liner just inside the foul pole in the right, came on an 0-2 pitch after Aaron Hill led off the inning with a single.
The finish washed out what was shaping up as an ugly end to the series, as Tampa Bay struck back from a 3-1 deficit, scoring the go-ahead run off Kevin Gregg in the top of the ninth on a B.J. Upton sac fly that followed a walk and a single. The Rays had tied it with a pair in the sixth off Shaun Marcum, who gave up a pair of infield singles to Sean Rodriguez and Evan Longoria, an RBI double to Ben Zobrist and a run-scoring wild pitch before striking out Brad Hawpe to end the inning. Zobrist also doubled home Tampa Bay’s first run in the fourth, and leaves town with six hits (five for extra bases), four walks and six RBIs for the series.
The Jays picked up three in the bottom of the fourth, two of which scored on an errant flip to the plate by starter Jeff Niemann on a bases-loaded roller from Hill. Niemann, who came in having given up 23 runs over 10 innings in his last three starts, lasted five innings before getting the hook.
Marcum lasted six for Toronto, with Jason Frasor and Scott Downs getting through the next two innings after Jesse Carlson gave up a single to start the seventh. That set up Gregg, who entered in the same situation Friday night before blowing it. Now, conventional wisdom calls for the closer in a tie game at home, but conventional wisdom has apparently never seen Gregg pitch. Though all was forgotten with Lind’s homer, I wouldn’t be surprised to see Downs get the ball in the closer’s role next time.
The win snaps a four-game losing streak after Toronto started things with a pair of wins over the Rangers, with a three-game set against the powerful Orioles starting tomorrow. Shockingly, Baltimore is on a bit of a roll, having won 23 of 37 since bringing in Buck Showalter to manage early last month. Still, I’m not that scared of a team we’ve spanked 12 times in 12 games this year. Marc Rzepczynski (1-4, 6.71) gets the ball in the opener against Brian Matusz (8-12, 4.71).