TORONTO—Roberto Osuna and Russell Martin both thought Steven Souza Jr.’s deep fly ball in the ninth inning was hit out of the park.
Ezequiel Carrera thought his own an inning earlier would hook foul.
Luckily for the Blue Jays, all three were wrong.
Carrera hit a tie-breaking pinch-hit homer in the eighth, and Osuna earned his 32nd save of the season in eventful fashion, as Toronto hung on to edge the Tampa Bay Rays 3-2 last night.
Benches and bullpens cleared briefly after the final out—a missile to the centre-field warning track with a runner on base that would have given Tampa a 4-3 lead if it cleared the fence.
But things quieted quickly and both teams walked back to their respective locker-rooms.
Martin said the short altercation stemmed from him telling Souza Jr. he thought the ball would carry.
“There’s no story,” Martin aded. “I told him he crushed the ball and he didn’t understand what I said . . . and before I could really explain, both teams got in that melee.
“I got to talk to him at the end and we’re fine,” he noted.
“There’s no bad blood or anything.”
Toronto’s Troy Tulowitzki rushed in from shortstop amid the confusion. Souza Jr., said he didn’t appreciate that.
“Troy decided to jump in and say some things that weren’t really necessary,” he remarked.
Osuna, who celebrated his save a pitch earlier before realizing that Martin had dropped a third strike, had to hold his breath as he watched Kevin Pillar backtrack to catch Souza Jr.’s ball.
In the end, though, the 21-year-old said it didn’t matter.
“To be honest I thought it was gone,” Osuna admitted. “When I looked at Pillar and he was going back, back, back, I was like, ‘Oh no.’
“But I mean, he got it and we won. That’s it.”
With the game tied 2-2, Carrera turned on a first-pitch fastball from Brad Boxberger (3-1) to lead off the eighth—sending it just over the left-field wall to give Toronto a precarious one-run lead.
It was the first pinch-hit homer for any Blue Jay since Carrera did it last July—and Carrera wasn’t sure he’d gotten enough of it at first.
“I didn’t think it was going to go out, but then for a second I thought it was going to be foul, too, so it worked out pretty well,” he said through a translator.
Jason Grilli (6-5) got the win while Jose Bautista hit a two-run shot for the Jays (79-64), who have had a rough go of things this month.
Toronto came into the game having lost three-straight series for the first time this season—a slide that began with two-of-three losses at Tampa Bay to open September.
The Jays had occupied sole possession of first place in the AL East as recently as Sept. 5, but remain two games back of Boston after the Red Sox beat the Baltimore Orioles 12-2 last night.
Evan Longoria and Brad Miller hit back-to-back solo homers for the Rays (60-83).
Francisco Liriano enjoyed a solid start for Toronto.
He gave up a lead-off single in the first inning, then retired 14-straight before issuing a two-out walk in the fifth.
The Toronto left-hander had thrown just 72 pitches when he was pulled after allowing two runs on three hits while walking two and striking out six through 6 1/3.
“He was dominating, he really was,” noted manager John Gibbons.
“We were a bit concerned heading into the game, he’s had issues with walks in the past . . . but he was on from the get-go.”
Elsewhere in the AL, Detroit doubled Minnesota 4-2, Oakland bombed Kansas City 16-3, Chicago dumped Cleveland 11-4, Texas edged Houston 4-3 (12 innings), and Seattle upended L.A. 8-1.
Over in the NL, Washington dumped New York 8-1, Philadelphia beat Pittsburgh 6-2, Cincinnati blanked Milwaukee 3-0, Atlanta upended Miami 12-7, Chicago downed St. Louis 4-1, Arizona topped Colorado 12-9, and San Diego whitewashed San Francisco 4-0.
The L.A. Dodgers beat the N.Y. Yankees 8-2 in interleague play.