Lately, the Tampa Bay Rays haven't been doing the greatest job of taking advantage of the struggles of the Boston Red Sox. Coming into action on Saturday, the Rays were losers of four of their last five games, and they sat 2½ games behind the AL Wild Card leader with time running out.
But Saturday afternoon, the Red Sox got slaughtered by the New York Yankees, giving the Rays another opportunity to pull closer. And the Rays didn't fritter this one away, knocking off the Toronto Blue Jays 6-2.
Things didn't begin well for the Rays. Three batters into the game, the Jays had a 2-0 lead after Jose Bautista blasted his 43rd home run. Jeff Niemann would last just the single frame, walking two and allowing a double and a homer.
In the bottom half, though, the Rays came right back, with a little help. With two down and B.J. Upton on second, Ben Zobrist hit a routine grounder to Mike McCoy, but McCoy threw the ball away, allowing Upton to score. The next batter, Johnny Damon, lifted a simple pop to shallow center, but the ball fell between several fielders, and Zobrist came around to knot things up.
Alex Torres relieved Niemann in the top of the second, and Torres would go on to throw five sparking, scoreless innings. While Torres kept the Jays hitters down, Zobrist put the Rays out in front in the fourth. Leading off against Ricky Romero, Zobrist pulled a low fastball out to left-center for home run number 18.
That made the score 3-2, and that's where it remained for quite some time. It was still 3-2 Rays in the bottom of the eighth when Damon batted against Romero with two on and two out. Romero left a 2-and-0 fastball up and Damon turned on it, drilling a home run that blew the game open.
Kyle Farnsworth turned in a perfect ninth, and the Rays won by four. With the win, the Rays closed to within 1½ games of the Red Sox. The Red Sox and Yankees play a doubleheader on Sunday, which means come Sunday night, the Rays and Red Sox could conceivably be tied, or the Rays could be a full three games back. Or something else in between.