Toronto at Tampa Bay, September 20-22

Monday, September 20 2021 @ 11:00 AM EDT

Contributed by: Magpie

We need you still, mighty Jobu. For we must venture into a dark and dreary place, a house that has been the setting of so much grief, so much misery.

But not if you are with us.

Accept these cigars, a token of our appreciation...

Accept this rum, an expression of our devotion....

Accept our praise and gratitude. We know where we would be without you.

Confound our enemies, mighty Jobu!

May their curveballs hang before us, and be driven deep into the night.

May their changeups bounce pointlessly in the dust, and deceive none of our batters.

We'll deal with the fastballs.

It's those Rays, one last time, to conclude a season series that has already seen these teams play in four different cities. The Rays lead it 9-7 so far, thanks largely to a 4-0 sweep in Buffalo. The teams have actually split the six games played down in the Trop this season, which is where we'll end things this year.

The story so far:

Things actually started out pretty well. The Jays went into the Trop, long a house of horrors, and took two of three.

April 23: Toronto 5 at Tampa Bay 3 - A three run homer by Semien in the fourth inning helped stake Matz to an early 4-0 lead. The Rays closed to within a run, but a Grichuk homer provided some breathing room. Four relievers - Chatwood, Phelps, Mayza, and Dolis - held the Rays hitless over the final four innings.
April 24: Toronto 3 at Tampa Bay 5 - This time it was a three run homer from Grichuk in the first inning that staked Robbie Ray to an early lead. But the Rays tied it up on homers from Zunino and Brosseau and won it when Romano issued a pair of walks that eventually came around to score, thanks in large part to a Biggio error.
April 25: Toronto 1 at Tampa Bay 0 - Hyun-Jin Ryu came out in the fourth inning with a pain in his glute, but five relievers - Mayza, Chatwood, Borucki, Phelps, Dolis - blanked the Rays on just two hits the rest of the way. Fifth inning singles from Semien, Gurriel, and Espinal pushed across the game's only run.

That was much too good to last. The Rays came up the road to Dunedin in late May, and had their revenge, sweeping all four games.

May 21: Tampa Bay 9 at Toronto 7 - The Jays beat up on Tyler Glasnow, knocking him out in the fifth inning and taking a 5-3 lead. But Anthony Kay was wild and only lasted four himself, and the Rays tied the game against Bergen and Cole. Then the teams started trading zeroes. Four Jays relievers - Romano, Mayza, Chatwood, Payamps - provided five shutout innings. Toronto's eighth pitcher of the day was Jeremy Beasley, and he got tagged for an eleventh inning grand slam by Mejia.
May 22: Tampa Bay 3 at Toronto 1 - Robbie Ray and Shane McClanahan were the starters, and after seven innings it was a 1-1 game, and in the hands of the bullpens. The Rays got one against Castro in the eighth and another against Thornton in the ninth.
May 23: Tampa Bay 4 at Toronto 6 - Ryu pitched into the seventh, and left with the score tied 2-2. The Jays took the lead on Grichuk's two run homer in the bottom of the eighth, only for the pen to immediately cough it up in grotesque fashion. Chatwood came in to close the game, but after two hits and two walks, the score was 4-3 and the bases were loaded. Bergen came in to get the final out but instead walked three batters in succession, each one plating another run.
May 24: Tampa Bay 14 at Toronto 8 - One bullpen implosion evidently calls for another. The Rays roughed up Thornton for five first inning runs, all unearned thanks to a Biggio error, which Thornton followed by walking the next two hitters and giving up a Wendle grand slam. Ross Stripling took over and turned his season around, providing seven scoreless innings while the Jays fought their way back, tying the game in the eighth on Guerrero's second homer of the day. The Rays scored twice against Castro in the tenth; the Jays tied it up again, on Semien's two run homer in the bottom half. So in the eleventh, the Rays took no chances, abusing Payamps and Mayza for seven runs.

Tampa Bay next came to Buffalo at the beginning of July, and the Jays took two of those three games.

July 2: Tampa Bay 1 at Toronto 11 - Manoah fanned 10 in seven innings to collect his second big league W. A two run homer from Springer in the first inning was all the offense that would be required, but the team piled on lots more just to be safe, with Semien and Guerrero also going deep.
July 3: Tampa Bay 3 at Toronto 6 - McClanahan and Stripling were locked up in a 1-1 game until the Jays suddenly put up a five spot in the sixth inning, the big blows being a two run single from Biggio aand a two run homer from Espinal.
July 4: Tampa Bay 5 at Toronto 1 - This started out as a pitcher's duel between Yarbrough and Ray. Grichuk's solo homer gave the Jays an early lead but the Rays tied it in the sixth on a homer by Franco. This was followed by doubles from Diaz and Meadows, and the Rays took a 2-1 lead into the ninth. They then took advantage of a generous Rafael Dolis (single, double, wild pitch, hit batter, double) for three more runs.

So the week after that they were down in Tampa Bay, and the Rays took two of three.

July 9: Toronto 1 at Tampa Bay 7 - Springer's RBI single gave the Jays the early lead, but the Rays responded with two in their half of the inning, and the Jays were pretty much done hitting for the day. The Rays mauled Castro and Barnes for four more runs just to make sure it never did get very interesting.
July 10: Toronto 2 at Tampa Bay 5 - The ball was flying out the yard early on. Lowe in the first inning gave the Rays a quick 1-0 lead, but Semien hit a two run shot in the third to put the Jays on top. Stripling instantly gave up a solo shot to Zunino and and a two run blast by Lowe (again) to put the Rays up 4-2 and the Jays managed not one hit after the fourth inning.
July 11: Toronto 3 at Tampa Bay 1 - Robbie Ray was dominant, fanning 11 and allowing just one hit over seven innings. Jansen's solo homer in the third gave the Jays the lead; an RBI single from Espinal and a Biggio sac fly added two more in the fourth. Romano got the save and blew the shutout on yet another Lowe homer.

I trust the most recent series is still fresh in your minds, as the Jays took two of three at the Dome. This was the fourth different city these two teams had played in during this extremely weird season.

September 13: Tampa Bay at Toronto 8 - Alek Manoah was dominant in the finest start of his young career, pitching 8 innings of one-hit shutout with 10 Ks. The Jays even roughed up old nemesis Ryan Yarbrough for seven runs, with the bottom third of the order - Gurriel, Grichuk, Valera - doing much of the damage. That trio went 9-11 and drove in six runs.
September 14: Tampa Bay 2 at Toronto 0 - The Rays bounced back the next night as Drew Rasmussen and four relievers blanked the Jays on three hits. Jose Berrios was very sharp himeself, allowing just a solo homer from Ji-Man Choi. But that was all it took to win this one.
September 15: Tampa Nay 3 at Toronto 6 - The Jays took the rubber match behind an overpowering Robbie Ray, who fanned 13 in his seven innings. Bichette's three run homer in the first was the only offense he would need, but the shortstop would drive in a couple more with a sac fly and a base hit.

There Be Matchups:

Monday 20 September 7:00 PM - Ray (12-5, 2.64) vs Baz (---, -.--)
Tuesday 21 September 7:00 PM - Manoah (6-2, 3.39) vs Rasmussen (3-0, 2.57)
Wednesday 22 September 3:00 PM - Merryweather (0-1, 4.91) vs Patino (4-3, 4.73)

This will be Robbie Ray's sixth start against Tampa Bay this year. That's old school. He's gone 2-1, 1.85 with 46 Ks in 34 IP. Manoah is 2-1, 0.96 in his three starts, Stripling is 0-1, 2.76. The Rays have held the Jays to a .230/.281/.400 batting mark, but Toronto has hit 24 homers in the 16 games, with more than half of them coming from three players - Guerrero, Semien, and Grichuk - who haven't done much else against the Rays. The one hitter who has really prospered against Tampa Bay is Hernandez.

The Rays have hit even less against the Jays - .190/.271/.371. Brandon Lowe has homered 6 times in 13 games, Mike Zunino 4 times in 10 games. No one on the team has hit better than .241 against Toronto. Baz, of course, is a Monday afternoon edit - he's part of the Chris Archer bounty, the trade that keeps on giving, and this will be his MLB debut. The Jays saw Rasmussen and Wacha just last week