MLB: Top of order leads Rays over Blue Jays

Rookie Jonathan Aranda hit a leadoff homer and scored three runs and Tampa Bay’s offense came alive with nine runs in the first four innings as the Rays ran away from the Toronto Blue Jays 10-5 on Thursday in St. Petersburg, Fla.

The Rays (83-67) scored just two runs over three straight home losses to the Houston Astros, but they opened their final home series of the season with the top of the order producing against Toronto starter Jose Berrios (11-6).

Aranda went 2-for-4 with an RBI and a walk, while teammate Wander Franco had two hits, three RBIs and a run.

Tampa Bay’s Randy Arozarena was 3-for-4 with two doubles, a walk, a steal, two runs and two RBIs. Manuel Margot notched two hits, two runs and an RBI. David Peralta had two hits, one a double, and two RBIs.

In all, the top five hitters in the order posted 11 of the 12 hits, eight runs and nine RBIs.

Bulk-innings reliever Ryan Yarbrough (3-8) followed opener JT Chargois, but Yarbrough left in the third with right side discomfort, after one inning pitched.

The win pulled the Rays to within one game of the top American League wild-card spot, held by Toronto (84-66).

The Jays’ Whit Merrifield homered twice and drove in three runs, Teoscar Hernandez went deep and Bo Bichette (double, RBI) and George Springer (triple, run) had two hits apiece.

Vladimir Guerrero Jr. was 0-for-3 with a walk to end his 14-game hitting streak — the AL’s longest active run.

After frittering away late leads in losses Wednesday night, the East Division foes swung the bats viciously early Thursday.

Springer opened with a triple to left and scored on Bichette’s 42nd double.

In the bottom of the first, Aranda ripped his second career homer, on an 0-1 curveball from Berrios. Arozarena’s one-out double scored Margot. Arozarena soon scored on Berrios’ wild pitch for a 3-1 lead.

In the second inning, Hernandez and Merrifield each hit long shots to left off Yarbrough to tie it.

The home side took a 6-3 lead on two-out RBI singles by Margot, Franco and Arozarena in the bottom half — all off Berrios.

The Rays created even more separation in the fourth when Franco’s two-run double and Peralta’s RBI infield single made it 9-3.

Peralta added another RBI on a double that scored Arozarena in the sixth.

Merrifield’s two-run blast in the ninth rounded out the scoring.

Berrios wound up yielding six runs on seven hits in two innings.

–Field Level Media

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