Hot Donaldson starts it, Smoak finishes it in win over Rays

Justin Smoak blasted a two-run homer in the eighth inning to lift the Toronto Blue Jays to a 5-3 win over the Tampa Bay Rays on Thursday.

'BringerofRain' continues torrid hitting pace with another 2-homer day

Toronto's Josh Donaldson hits the first of his two home runs Thursday against the Tampa Bay Rays. (Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images)

"Get Right Witcha" by Migos was blasting in the Blue Jays clubhouse, with team attendants and players quickly packing up after a 10-game homestand so they could catch a flight to Chicago for a matinee game against the World Series champion Cubs.

A 7-3 record on that homestand, punctuated by a 5-3 win over the Tampa Bay Rays on Thursday, has energized the team. Justin Smoak's two-run homer in the eighth inning and Josh Donaldson's pair of solo shots earlier in the game anchored the Blue Jays' victory over their division rival as Toronto won its third consecutive series and continued to close in on the second wild card spot in the American League.

"It's a breath of fresh air to be able to come to the yard expecting to win and getting those breaks that are going our way and sometimes making our own breaks" said Donaldson, who now has six homers in his past five games.

Josh Donaldson capped off a successful Toronto Blue Jays' homestand with two more home runs on Thursday, bringing his total to seven in 10 games. 0:32

The Blue Jays, Rays and Baltimore Orioles now have identical .488 win percentages and are three games back of the Los Angeles Angels for the AL's final wild card spot. The Angels were off on Thursday. However, there are four teams between Toronto, Tampa, Baltimore and the Angels.

"We feel O.K. where we're at right now, but we still have a lot of room to climb with a few teams ahead of us," said Donaldson. "Hopefully it comes down to the end of the season and we continue to play well."

Donaldson's turnaround in August is a big reason for the Blue Jays' late-season charge. He missed most of April and May with a calf injury and then struggled in June and July. But nine of his 18 home runs this season have come in the past 17 days, with 21 runs batted in and a .400 batting average.

"He's been unbelievable," said Smoak. "I think it was just a matter of time, coming back from injury, to get his timing. The last two weeks he's been really impressive and, honestly, it's just something you come to expect."

Smoak's 413-foot bomb to deep right field drove in Donaldson and restored the lead for the Blue Jays (59-62) after they had coughed it up in the top of the inning.

Chris Rowley pitched five innings for Toronto, striking out three and allowing four hits and five walks in just his second career MLB start. Aaron Loup, Danny Barnes, Tim Mayza and Dominic Leone came in from the bullpen, with Roberto Osuna earning his 32nd save of the season.

Donaldson homered twice, while Smoak hit the go-ahead 2-run homer as Toronto beat Tampa Bay 5-3 2:07

Leone (3-0) earned the win as the pitcher of record when Smoak hit his go-ahead homer.

"You feel better," said Blue Jays manager John Gibbons about leaving for a road trip on a winning note. "I've gotten on that plane many times after a loss, still good food. But there's no doubt you always want to leave feeling good."

Chris Archer struck out 10, giving up five hits and three earned runs over seven innings. His impressive performance for Tampa Bay (60-63) was wasted when reliever Tommy Hunter (2-4) gave up Smoak's home run.

Donaldson put a solo shot over the left-field fence in the first inning, bringing the sold-out crowd of 46,855 at Rogers Centre to their feet and giving Toronto a 1-0 lead.

Smoak added to that in the third with an RBI single to right field that brought home Darwin Barney.

Mallex Smith chipped away at Toronto's lead with a stand-up triple that drove in Adeiny Hechavarria in the top of the fourth.

Archer struck out Blue Jays catcher Miguel Montero in the bottom of the inning, his eighth of the game and 1,000th in his career. He joined Kerry Wood, Tim Lincecum, Rogers Clemens, Stephen Strasburg, Dwight Gooden, Hideo Nomo, Corey Kluber and Randy Johnson with 1,000 Ks in first 154 games or fewer.

Donaldson got his second homer in the fifth, making it 3-1. It was his 13th career multi-homer game and third of the season.


To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to CBC/Radio-Canada's online communities (except in children and youth-oriented communities). Pseudonyms will no longer be permitted.

By submitting a comment, you accept that CBC has the right to reproduce and publish that comment in whole or in part, in any manner CBC chooses. Please note that CBC does not endorse the opinions expressed in comments. Comments on this story are moderated according to our Submission Guidelines. Comments are welcome while open. We reserve the right to close comments at any time.