Wander Franco drives for 3 as Rays beat Blue Jays 10-5

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (AP) – Wander Franco has three RBIs, Jonathan Aranda goes home and the Tampa Bay Rays beat the Toronto Blue Jays 10-5 on Thursday night in the opening game of a big four-game series between the playoff contenders.

Randy Arozarena hit three times and drove in two runs for the Rays, who are coming off a three-game streak in which they were swept by Houston and scored just two goals.

“Baseball is weird. I saw a score that was a little bit different tonight. ” said Kevin Cash, manager of Tampa Bay. “They do a great job of letting it go, come the next day, ready to work, get better and find a way to win.”

Tampa Bay (83-67) edged out Toronto (84-66) to take the top spot of the AL wild card leaderboard. Seattle (82-67) is third, four games ahead of Baltimore.

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Whit Merrifield scored twice for Toronto, and Teoscar Hernández also advanced. José Berríos (11-6) was tagged for six runs and seven hits in two innings.

“It’s a little bit weird to take the lead and not be far behind the boys,” Blue Jays interim coach John Schneider said of Berríos, who threw 74 pitches.

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Toronto fell 3/4 after winning 13/17 in early September.

Manuel Margot’s RBI single at the yard, and hits from Franco and Arozarena sent the Rays to 6-3 in the second.

Franco added a two-run double in the Rays’ fourth three runs.

“I think we made the right adjustments today,” Franco said through an interpreter. “We played really well, and hopefully we can continue with this energy.”

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Cash opted for Ryan Yarbrough (3-8) to replace opener JT Chargois to start the second game, facing a pair of famous players with some career success against the left.

Hernández took the lead, seventh in 34 games against Yarbrough. A match later, Merrifield tied it at 3 with his solo shot, giving him seven hits, including two home hits, of nine backhands against a left-handed player.

Merrifield added a double drive on Friday.

Yarbrough leaves in third with right oblique stress and is “most likely on IL,” according to Cash.

Garrett Cleavinger replaced Yarbrough and allowed a hit in two halves of nothing before Shawn Armstrong, Brooks Raley and Colin Poche combined for three unsuccessful innings.

Aranda scored on the second pitch from Berríos in the first three rounds. Arozarena scored a brace, finished third on a throw-in and scored on a wild pitch.

Toronto’s Bo Bichette hit a double in the opening game, giving him 24 RBIs in 21 games in September.


Rays radio player Andy Freed caught a foul ball from Toronto’s George Springer in the seventh hit that the broadcasters kept in their boxes.

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The Blue Jays are lining up right-back Alek Manoah (14-7. 2.40 ERA) to start the final game of the regular season or a potential opener.

Schneider will use Manoah if home advantage is threatened.

“I think there is nothing better than playing in front of our fans in the post-season period after a few years (affected by the pandemic). “We weren’t there with what the world and the country went through.”


Kevin Herget, the Rays right-hand man, who made his major league debut on September 13 after a decade of playing for the minors, has been assigned to duty.

Midfielder/midfielder Miles Mastrobuoni was selected from Triple-A Durham after seven years in the youth team and a few weeks after his brother’s wedding.

“It was an eventful month for our family,” Mastrobuoni said.


Blue Jays: OF Lourdes Gurriel Jr. (left hamstring) is participating in baseball activities and may start running soon. … INF Santiago Espinal (left oblique) entered the field at IL.

Rays: Ace Shane McClanahan (stiff neck) has had a bullpen session and will start on Sunday. … 3B Yandy Díaz (left shoulder) was injected with cortisone. … Cash says 2B Brandon Lowe (back) still hurts but doesn’t know if it stems from injury or a recent shot.

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Rays Jeffrey Springs Film Festival (April 9) will begin Friday night. Toronto has not announced its launch.


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