Meadows lifts wild card-leading Rays over Blue Jays
Tampa Bay all-star hits his 27th homer in 7th inning to break tie
Austin Meadows is getting key hits in Tampa Bay's post-season drive.
The All-Star hit his 27th homer, leading Tampa Bay over the Toronto Blue Jays 6-4 on Thursday night and maintaining the Rays' half-game lead over Oakland for the AL's top wild card.
"He's had an awesome season to date," Tampa Bay manager Kevin Cash said. "Picked us up many, many ways, and he did it again tonight. Hopefully it continues for some more weeks."
Meadows homered off Buddy Boshers (0-3) leading off the seventh for a 5-4 lead and added an RBI double in the eighth against Ryan Tepera. Meadows also broke a tie in a 2-0 win over Baltimore in Tuesday's doubleheader nightcap.
"Things are going well right now," Meadows said.
WATCH | Rays top Jays in series opener:
Tampa Bay, seeking its first post-season appearance since 2013, opened a 1 1/2-game lead over Cleveland, which is third in the wild-card standings. The game drew just 5,962, the second-smallest crowd this season at Tropicana Field.
"We're in a countdown right now," Rays left fielder Tommy Pham said. "Every game matters, and we need to win."
Bichette homers twice
Rookie Bo Bichette had his second multihomer game for the Blue Jays, who have lost four straight and 13 of 16. Toronto is on a pace for 99 losses.
Bichette homered in a 13-pitch at-bat leading off the first and tied the score 4-4 with a two-run drive in the seventh off Oliver Drake (4-2).
"I think it's a huge advantage because the more you see a pitcher, the more confident you get," Bichette said of his first-inning at-bat. "When it goes that many pitches, most of the time you see everything he has so I felt good."
Emilio Pagan allowed a double to Reese McGuire in the ninth and walked Derek Fisher before getting a fielder's choice grounder from Bichette and retiring Cavan Biggio on a game-ending flyout with runners at the corners. Pagan got his 18th save in 25 chances.
Vladimir Guerrero Jr. rolled to his right on a nifty slide to complete a two-out triple in the first and cut Toronto's deficit to 3-2 with an RBI single in the sixth.
"I was hoping he'd stay at second base, to tell you the truth," Blue Jays manager Charlie Montoyo said. "But he made it to third base, so good for him."