ST. PETERSBURG. Fla. – Jonathan Aranda led off Thursday night’s series opener against Toronto at Tropicana Field by setting the tone with a blast into the right field seats.
Many runs would follow in a 10-5 win over the Blue Jays. The Rays scored three runs in the first, second and fourth innings after scoring all of two runs in being swept in a three-game series by the Astros.
“After three fairly quiet days at the plate, it felt like everybody had a big day,” said manager Kevin Cash, whose team enters Friday night second in the wild card, one game behind Toronto and with a one-half game lead over Seattle.
The Rays scored more than five runs only once in their previous 15 games. That an 11-0 win in Toronto on September 15 to conclude a five-game series with their division rival.
As Cash alluded to, just about everybody played a role Thursday night. Each of the first five batters in the lineup had at least two hits and all five drove in at least one run.
“Give the guys credit,” he said. “It could have been easy to, after what took place the last three days, and them coming right back to tie it (at 3-3 in the second inning), get real frustrated.”
Among the hitting stars were Aranda (2 H, HR, 3 R), Randy Arozarena (3 H, 2 2B, 2 RBI) and David Peralta (2 H, 2B, 2 RBI). For each of them, a fun evening was a much-needed development. Consider:
- Aranda was 1-for-his-last-17.
- Arozarena was mired in an 8-for-41 (.195) skid.
- Peralta, who has yet to homer in 39 games with the Rays, was hitless in his last 15 at-bats.
Aranda’s leadoff homer was notable, not only because it quickly tied the game after the Blue Jays touched opener JT Chargois for a run, but the fact home runs have been hard to come by. The Rays entered play Thursday having hit only 13 in September, a figure was tied with Kansas City for last in the majors.
Wander Franco has not hit homer in 15 games since returning from a fractured hamate bone in his right hand. However, he has hit safely in nine straight games and drove in three runs Thursday, two on a double in the fourth.
“Fortunately, I feel really good,” he said via interpreter Manny Navarro, following the game. “I think I am starting to feel like I felt at the beginning of the year. I have made little adjustments that hopefully continue on.”
The Rays hope the scoring continues on through a critical weekend.