TORONTO – Ji-Man Choi, Guillermo Heredia and Willy Adames crushed late-game homers as the Tampa Bay Rays rallied past the Blue Jays 10-9 on Sunday and spoil a strong start from Toronto’s Aaron Sanchez.
A day after the Blue Jays overcame a 9-2 deficit to win 10-9 in the 12th inning after Teoscar Hernandez’s walk-off homer, the Rays found themselves behind 9-4 after six innings.
Sanchez had struck out 10 — one shy of his career high — through 5 2/3 innings.
But Choi clubbed a two-run shot in the seventh, Heredia followed suit with a two-run homer of his own in the eighth, and Adames made it back-to-back blasts with a solo shot.
That tied the score 9-9 and set the stage for the Rays to score the go-ahead run in the ninth. Toronto reliever Daniel Hudson loaded the bases with two walks and a single to Austin Meadows.
Hudson gave way to Derek Law. The first batter he faced, Joey Wendle, hit a chopper to second base to score the decisive run.
Toronto’s Justin Smoak hit a solo homer to lead off the second inning, Billy McKinney slammed a two-run shot in the fifth and Vladimir Guerrero Jr., knocked in three runs to give the Blue Jays (40-66) plenty of offensive support.
Sanchez (3-14) has not won since Toronto defeated the Oakland A’s 7-1 at home on April 27. The righty failed to win his next 16 starts, which included 13 losses and three no-decisions. He had lost 10 in a row before his impressive no-decision shutout outing against Cleveland last Tuesday.
Sanchez set a club record with six straight strikeouts to begin the game against the Rays. His no-hit bid was broken up with a sharp single from Choi that breezed past Toronto second baseman Cavan Biggio to lead off the fourth inning.
The Blue Jays scored twice in the second inning and two more in the third off Rays starter Yonny Chirinos (8-5) to give Sanchez a comfortable 4-0 cushion. But after allowing only a single through four innings, the Rays began to hammer Sanchez.
Nate Lowe led off the fifth inning with a double off the left-field wall and scored on Matt Duffy’s single to left. Duffy was thrown out at second base by Toronto outfielder Lourdes Gurriel Jr.
In the sixth, Choi and Tommy Pham laced one-out singles and were driven home by catcher Travis d’Arnaud’s two-out double down the left-field line. D’Arnaud was the last batter Sanchez faced.
He was replaced after 95 pitches — 67 for strikes — by reliever Justin Shafer. The first batter he faced, Lowe, hit a double to score D’Arnaud, which saddled Sanchez with four earned runs.
Sanchez entered the game with tied for the MLB lead with 59 walks, but for the second straight game he did not yield a free pass.
Before the game Eric Sogard was scratched from the Blue Jays lineup as the veteran utilityman had been traded to the Rays for two players to be named later.
The 33-year-old Sogard was signed to a minor-league deal in the off-season. He hit .300 and swatted 10 homers in 73 games for the Blue Jays.
McKinney replaced Sogard in right field and delivered a crucial two-run homer in a four-run fifth inning with Guerrero aboard to provide Sanchez with an 8-1 lead. Guerrero knocked in two runs with a single to right field.