All-Star Austin Meadows hit his 27th homer, leading the Tampa Bay over the Toronto Blue Jays 6-4 on Thursday night and maintaining the Rays’ half-game lead over Oakland for the AL’s top wild card.
Meadows homered off Buddy Boshers (0-3) leading off the seventh for a 5-4 lead and added an RBI double in the eighth against Ryan Tepera. Meadows also broke a tie in a 2-0 win over Baltimore in Tuesday’s doubleheader nightcap.
In the victory, Waiakea graduate Kean Wong made his Major League Baseball debut. The Hilo native was called-up prior to the game and started at second base. The 4-time Minor League All-Star went 0-for-2 at the plate, but defensively turned a double-play in the fourth inning.
Wong, is the younger brother of Cardinals second baseman, Kolten Wong.
Tampa Bay, seeking its first postseason appearance since 2013, opened a 1½-game lead over Cleveland, which is third in the wild-card standings. The game drew just 5,962, the second-smallest crowd this season at Tropicana Field.
Rookie Bo Bichette had his second multi-homer game for the Blue Jays, who have lost four straight and 13 of 16. Toronto is on a pace for 99 losses.
Bichette homered in a 13-pitch at-bat leading off the first and the score 4-4 with a two-run drive in the seventh off Oliver Drake (4-2).
Emilio Pagán allowed a double to Reese McGuire in the ninth and walked Derek Fisher before retiring Cavan Biggio on a game-ending flyout with runners at the corners. Pagan got his 18th save in 25 chances.
Vladimir Guerrero Jr. rolled to his right on a nifty slide to complete a two-out triple in the first and cut Toronto’s deficit to 3-2 with an RBI single in the sixth.
Tommy Pham swiped third in the seventh to join B.J. Upton (2007, ’11, ’12) as the only players in Rays history to have 20 steals and 20 homers in the same season. Pham later left with right forearm tightness.
Blue Jays: INF Lourdes Gurriel Jr. (left quadriceps strain) is to play in a simulated game Friday.
Rays: LHP Blake Snell (left elbow bone chips surgery) will make his first rehab start Saturday with Triple-A Durham. … CF Kevin Kiermaier fouled a ball off his right foot and was hit by two pitches on his right foot but stayed in the game. … C Travis d’Arnaud left with neck and shoulder stiffness after being hit a foul ball in the eighth.
Blue Jays: RHP Clay Buchholz (1-3) will make his third start Friday since returning from right shoulder inflammation.
Rays: Two-way player Brendan McKay (2-3) will start or follow an opener. The left-hander was shut down for around 10 days at the end of August due to left shoulder fatigue that resulted in him getting a cortisone shot.