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DeLuca's two-run HR rallies Rays past Blue Jays

Kevin Gausman Toronto Blue Jays Kevin Gausman - The Canadian Press

TORONTO — The Toronto Blue Jays know that something has to change. Pitcher Chris Bassitt, general manager Ross Atkins and manager John Schneider have all said as much over the past two days.

But Kevin Gausman, the team's ace last season, already sees a difference.

"I actually think we're in the middle of the change," he said after Toronto fell to the Tampa Bay Rays 5-4 on Saturday. "It's just unfortunate that we're losing games, you know, but I think the level of baseball is the last, you know, 10 games has been a lot better than before."

Gausman struck out six and gave up eight hits and a walk but limited the Rays to three runs over six innings. Jonny DeLuca's two-run homer in the eighth completed the comeback as Tampa Bay (25-22) scored five unanswered runs for its fourth straight win.

Toronto is 3-7 in its last 10 games and is last in the American League East, 2 1/2 games back of the fourth-place Boston Red Sox.

"We obviously are not in a good spot right now," said Gausman. "I mean, we're in last place, we kind of dug ourselves in this hole.

"We're about to go on, I think, 19 games straight. There's nothing else we can do but just show up every day and try to get better every single day."

Jose Caballero had an RBI single and Amed Rosario added a two-run single in the sixth as the Rays climbed back into the game.

Zach Eflin (4-4) allowed four runs on nine hits over six innings. Relievers Erasmo Ramirez, Jason Adam and Garrett Cleavinger combined for three scoreless innings.

Daulton Varsho hit a two-run double and Vladimir Guerrero Jr. had an RBI single in the fifth as Toronto (19-25) built a 4-0 lead. George Springer opened the scoring by driving in a run in the fourth.

It was Springer's first game not leading off for the Blue Jays, as he was moved down to sixth and Davis Schneider was moved up to the top of the order. Springer is hitting .197 and Schneider improved his average to .267 after going 2 for 5 on Saturday.

"I thought it played out fine," said manager John Schneider. "I thought Schneid had good at bats, I thought George had good at bats.

"We didn't get the big hit we needed in the eighth but yeah, I thought it was good."

Yimi Garcia, Nate Pearson, Trevor Richards and Tim Mayza came out of the Blue Jays' bullpen. Pearson was responsible for two runs, taking his first loss of the season.

Springer broke a scoreless tie in the fourth inning when his two-out single dribbled into shallow left field. That gave Guerrero ample time to trot home.

A quick Blue Jays rally in the fifth inning tacked three more runs on to that lead.

Varsho doubled to score Kevin Kiermaier and Davis Schneider, who had led off the inning with back-to-back hits. Guerrero singled to plate Varsho but was tagged out at second when he tried to stretch the hit into a double.

Rosario and Caballero replied for Tampa Bay in the next inning. Rosario came to the plate with the bases loaded but two outs, getting a hit to score Yandy Diaz and Harold Ramirez. Caballero then had a base hit to bring home DeLuca.

"I think if I keep them to one or two runs we probably win that game, to be honest," said Gausman. "You gotta give them credit. Not many times I get got late in my outing. It's usually early or not.

DeLuca gave the Rays their first lead of the game in the eighth, hitting his second home run of the season off Pearson. He scored pinch-runner Richie Palacios with the homer to make it 5-4 Tampa.

"First pitch, (I thought) I’m going to see heater," said DeLuca, who was actually considering bunting. "I ended up getting it and putting a good swing on it. It was a good decision in retrospect."

ON DECK — Alek Manoah (0-1) will take the mound for the Blue Jays in the finale of the three-game series with Tampa Bay.

Aaron Civale (2-3) will go for the Rays in the matinee.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 18, 2024.