Toronto 17, Tampa Bay 11
Toronto, ON (Sports Network) –J.P. Arencibia had a major-league debut to remember, going 4-for-5 with two home runs, a double and three RBI, as the Toronto Blue Jays belted eight home runs en route to a 17-11 drubbing of the Rays, handing Tampa Bay a season-high fourth straight loss.
Arencibia, a first-round pick by Toronto in the 2007 draft, belted 31 homers in Triple-A Las Vegas this year before getting brought up earlier this week due to an injury to All-Star catcher John Buck (thumb). The 24-year-old backstop hit a two-run homer on the first pitch he saw in the second inning and added a solo blast in the sixth.
The rookie highlighted a barrage of long balls by the hosts, including two from Aaron Hill and one each from Edwin Encarnacion, Adam Lind, Lyle Overbay and league-leader Jose Bautista in Toronto’s fourth win in five games.
Tampa Bay’s James Shields (10-10) allowed nine hits — six homers — and four walks while yielding eight runs in four innings to snap a personal three-start winning streak. Dan Johnson went 2-for-2 with a homer and four RBI in defeat.
The Blue Jays set a season-high for runs and hits (20) and put on a home run display to extend its 3-2 lead in the third. Lind and Hill opened the inning with shots over the right and left field fences, respectively, and Encarnacion pulled an outside pitch to left for another round-tripper two batters later.
Bautista smashed his MLB-best 34th bomb leading off the fourth, and Hill barely cleared the left-field wall later in the frame to notch his third career multi-homer game.
Toronto starter Brad Mills was pulled after walking B.J. Upton in the fifth with the bases loaded, and the Rays got two more runs in the inning on a Johnson sacrifice fly and Evan Longoria groundout off Brian Tallet (2-4), who got credit for the win for throwing three innings of relief.
Dale Thayer mercifully relieved Shields in the home half and was just as ineffective. The Jays pushed across five runs with two outs, starting with Vernon Wells’ bases-loaded infield single and capping it with consecutive two- run hits by Lind and Hill.
Arencibia put the finishing touches on his prolific arrival with an opposite- field shot to right in the sixth, leading to a curtain call from the Rogers Centre crowd.
Overbay topped Johnson’s two-run homer in the seventh with a three-run blast in Toronto’s half.
The Blue Jays failed to score in the eighth, the only frame in which they were blanked. The Rays plated four in the ninth on a Reid Brignac sac fly, a Travis Snider error on the same play, a Gabe Kapler double and a Willy Aybar groundout.
Yunel Escobar’s RBI double in the first inning and Arencibia’s first-pitch, two-run homer in the second were countered by run-scoring hits from Upton and Johnson in the third frame.
Bautista has homered in 10 straight series, tying a Blue Jays record set by Carlos Delgado (2001)…Arencibia became the first player since Boston’s Daniel Nava (6/12/2010) to hit a home run on his first pitch in the big leagues…The Blue Jays currently lead the majors with 175 homers this season, 30 more than the Red Sox going into their game against the Yankees…Mills, recalled from Las Vegas to take the rotation spot of the injured Jesse Litsch (hip), surrendered five hits, four walks and five runs over four-plus frames in his second start this season…Escobar, Encarnacion and Hill each had three hits for the Blue Jays…Johnson’s homer was his first since September 15, 2008.