In a game that featured two teams well outside of the playoff picture, the Tampa Bay Rays dominance over the Toronto Blue Jays at Tropicana Field continued in a 11-4 home side win Friday.
The Rays (74-73) came into the game coming off a brutal 11-game road swing that began with nine losses in their first 10 games.
Tampa Bay, who were last year’s American League pennant winners, began the night 13 games behind Boston for the wildcard.
Vancouver’s Scott Richmond (6-10, 5.03 E.R.A.) started things off for Toronto (66-80) in the Sunshine State, but lasted just two plus innings, after giving up five earned runs on seven hits.
Richmond has still not earned a victory since June 24.
Tampa countered with its ace, right-hander James Shields (10-11, 4.03 E.R.A.). Shields, who was 0-5 in his last 10 at home, threw six strong innings, giving up four earned runs on nine hits, and struck out seven.
The Jays jumped out to an early 1-0 lead in the top of the first after Adam Lind singled in his 104th RBI of the season, scoring Jose Bautista from second.
In the top of the third inning, with runners on first and second, Vernon Wells doubled to the left-centre gap for his 63rd RBI of the campaign to put the Jays up 2-0.
Wells, who came in with a 10 game hit streak, went two-for-four on the night.
Toronto’s slim lead was short-lived, however, as the Rays took control of the game in the home half of the third.
Carl Crawford scored Jason Bartlett on a triple to right-centre and Evan Longoria returned the favour one swing of the bat later, scoring Crawford from third.
Ben Zobrist sliced a double down the left field line to put runners on second and third. Willy Aybar then put the Rays ahead 3-2 when he knocked home Longoria with a single to right.
Brian Wolfe was brought in to relieve Richmond, but the Rays hit parade continued as former Blue Jay Greg Zaun doubled to the right-centre gap that scored Zobrist to make it 4-2.
Wolfe then walked Iwamura to load the bases, and with no one out and a 3-2 count, Gabe Gross singled to right. Zaun came in to score the sixth and final Rays run of the inning on a double-play ground out by B.J. Upton.
Zobrist’s single to right off Jays middle reliever Dirk Hayhurst scored Crawford from second base in the bottom half of the fourth to make it 7-2 and the rout was on.
NOTES: Carl Crawford, who had 58 steals coming into the game, landed his 59th robbery of the campaign in the bottom of the eighth. Adam Lind is the first Blue Jay since 2006 to hit at least 30 homers and drive in more than 100 runs … Randy Ruiz, who was called up to Jays in August, was selected as the MVP for Toronto’s Triple-A affiliate in Las Vegas after hitting .320 with 25 home runs and 106 runs batted in for the 51s this season … The Rays are now 12-4 against the Blue Jays this season, their most victories over any opponent in 2009.