TORONTO – Jonathan Aranda’s second-inning grand slam spearheaded the Tampa Bay Rays to a regular season-ending 12-8 win over the Toronto Blue Jays on Sunday.
Aranda had three hits and knocked in six runs for the Rays (99-63), who will join the Blue Jays (89-73) in the American League wild-card round beginning Tuesday.
The Blue Jays will travel to Minnesota to take on the Twins, while the Rays will face the Texas Rangers.
Tampa Bay enjoyed a 16-hit offensive outburst, three more than the home side.
The Rays roughed up 31-year-old Toronto righty Wes Parsons (0-1), called up from Triple A-Buffalo to pitch Sunday’s contest.
Parsons, who last pitched in the Majors four years ago with the Colorado Rockies, was rocked for nine runs on 10 hits with three strikeouts and three walks in his 89-pitch outing that spanned four innings.
The Rays sent 12 batters to the plate in the second inning, scoring seven times on seven hits, with the biggest blow being Aranda’s first career grand slam.
Manuel Margot hit a solo blast off Parsons in the fourth inning and Junior Caminero greeted reliever Tim Mayza with a solo shot in the fifth.
Tampa Bay promoted lefty Jacob Lopez (1-0) from Triple-A Durham to start. He lasted 5 1/3 innings, giving up five earned runs on eight hits, striking out four and walking two.
The Blue Jays scored three runs in the second inning and added three more in the sixth.
Tyler Heineman knocked in Davis Schneider and Cavin Biggio with a triple, and the catcher later scored on a wild pitch for Toronto’s first three runs.
Schneider doubled to lead off the sixth inning, scoring on Biggio’s single to right. Biggio and Santiago Espinal, who reached base on an error, later scored on Daulton Varsho and Heineman singles.
Schneider scored two runs and belted two doubles in the finale, while Heineman went 2 for 4 with three RBIs.
Toronto’s Brandon Belt smacked his 19th homer of the season in the eighth inning.
Blue Jays rookie Cam Eden registered his first career hit with a second-inning single to right field.
The Blue Jays topped the three-million mark in attendance for the eighth time in franchise history and the first time since 2017, with a final crowd of 42,058 to push the season total to 3,021,904.
The Blue Jays have Monday off before beginning their AL wild-card series.
Righty Kevin Gausman (12-9) is expected to start the post-season opener for Toronto on Tuesday. He led the AL with 237 strikeouts.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Oct. 1, 2023.
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