ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — The Toronto Blue Jays dugout got a laugh when slugger Vladimir Guerrero Jr. struck out against a position player. Given a second chance against Luke Raley, Guerrero hit his fourth career grand slam.
Guerrero had six RBIs and the Blue Jays stopped a five-game losing streak with a 20-1 rout of the Tampa Bay Rays, scoring their last 10 runs off position players.
Guerrero put Toronto ahead with an RBI single off Taj Bradley (3-1) in the first, had a run-scoring single in the fifth that opened a 10-0 lead and hit a 423-foot grand slam in a nine-run ninth against Raley.
“We were all kind of laughing,” Blue Jays manager John Schneider said of Guerrero’s strikeout on a 50 mph pitch. “It’s hard to do against a dude throwing 40, whatever. You kind of take it for what it’s worth. The fact that he was laughing, I loved it.”
“But, you don’t get Vladdy twice on a position player,” Schneider added. “He’s going to get you.”
Guerrero is hitting .300 with eight homers and 33 RBIs. His six RBIs were one shy of his career high.
All 12 Toronto batters in the game had hits, and the Blue Jays finished with 27 hits – their most since getting 29 against Boston in a 28-5 win last July 22.
Tampa Bay entered with the second-fewest runs allowed in the majors at 170 and gave up its most since a 20-8 loss at Boston on Aug. 11, 2021.
“In fairness, it got a little ugly.” Rays manager Kevin Cash said.
George Springer had a career-high four hits, and Bo Bichette, Whit Merrifield, Danny Jansen and Guerrero had three apiece. Springer hit his seventh homer, a solo drive in the third.
“It’s good to see some positives on our side,” Springer said. “It’s just a good day. Hopefully spiral into a lot more.”
Raley, an outfielder and first baseman, allowed seven runs and eight hits over 1 2/3 innings. He threw 27 pitches of 47-54 mph.
“It’s something I can honestly say I never thought I would do … at least have one strikeout in the books,” Raley said.
Catcher Christian Bethancourt entered with two outs in the ninth and gave up Daulton Varsho‘s RBI single and Jansen’s two-run homer.
Raley’s ERA is 30.38 after his second mound appearance this season. Bethancourt’s ERA is 81.00.
“It’s not my favorite place to be,” Raley said. “I told them before, I got rocked in high school, so I can’t imagine what these guys would actually do to me if I tried to pitch. So just try to lob it over the plate and save our bullpen.”
Cash said with a smile that Raley needs to add a changeup.
Zack Burdi gave up six runs in the fifth, five of them earned.
José Berríos (4-4) allowed one run, five hits and two walks, striking out five.
Isaac Paredes homered for the Rays, who dropped to 22-5 at home this season. Tampa Bay leads the majors with 95 home runs.
Bradley gave up four runs and nine hits in four innings.
Merrifield is 7 for 9 in the series and stole his 14th base. … The 27 hits was most ever allowed by the Rays. … This largest margin of defeat in Tampa Bay history.
Blue Jays: LHP Hyun-Jin Ryu and reliever Chad Green, both coming back from Tommy John surgery, came over from the team’s spring training complex in nearby Dunedin and had bullpen sessions.
“They looked good,” Schnieder said.
Ryu and Green are both expected back this season,
RHP Adam Cimber (upper back) was reinstated from the 15-day injured list.
Rays: 2B Brandon Lowe (neck stiffness) was out of the lineup.
Toronto LHP Yusei Kikuchi (5-1) and Rays LHP Shane McClanahan (7-0) are Wednesday night’s starters. McClanahan is looking to become the major’s first eight-game winner.