Bo Bichette has found a productive way to celebrate the 20th Roberto Clemente Day and his distinction as the Blue Jays nominee for the prestigious award named after the late great Pittsburgh Pirates.
The Toronto shortstop hit five points in the Blue Jays ‘6-3 win over the Tampa Bay Rays on Wednesday, a day after Bichette was named the Blue Jays’ nominee for the Roberto Clemente Award, presented to the player who “best represents the game of baseball through extraordinary character, community involvement, philanthropy and positive contributions on and off the field. “
Bichette and several others wore Clemente’s number 21 in the series final against the Rays to honor the Puerto Rican Baseball Hall of Fame, including Blue Jays manager Charlie Montoyo, third baseman Luis Rivera, the pitcher Jose Berrios and slugger Vladimir Guerrero Jr.
“Not just for what he did on the pitch, but what he did off the pitch,” said Montoyo, explaining why he chose to change his shirt number from No.25 to No.21 for the day. “He was a great human being.”
The crowd of 12,153 watched the outstanding performances of Bichette and starting pitcher Robbie Ray as the Blue Jays (82-64) took two of the three from the Rays (90-56), who have the best record in the league. American.
Ray (12-5) struck out 13 strikes and allowed no walks in seven solid four-hit innings. His fastball-slider combination knocked the Tampa Bay hitters off balance.
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Ray hasn’t lost since a 7-4 loss to the Boston Red Sox at Fenway Park on July 21. It was 10 departures ago. The Toronto southpaw has been particularly powerful in his last six outings, knocking out a total of 66 opponents.
“It’s fun to play behind because he’s aggressive,” Bichette said of Ray. “He’s not afraid of anyone. He’s not afraid of anything. He just attacks guys.
“He is not scared.”
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Ray’s only flaw was a full-count slider that Rays receiver Mike Zunino knocked down over the left-field fence to start the fifth inning. Zunino’s 30th, to bring the score to 4-1, surprised Ray.
“I felt he had been hit too high and there wasn’t enough lead,” Ray said.
There was no doubt about Bichette’s three-point explosion in the first round, his 25th of the season. With infielder Marcus Semien and Guerrero third and second respectively, Bichette managed a change from Tampa Bay starter Michael Wacha (3-5) over the left field fence.
“I was just trying to be aggressive and give my best momentum,” said Bichette.
With his home run, Bichette joined Guerrero, Semien and Teoscar Hernandez as the Blue Jays with 25 or more home runs and over 90 RBIs. This is the first time in franchise history that four Blue Jays have crossed the stages in the same season and the first team to turn the round since the 2009 Minnesota Twins and Philadelphia Phillies.
In the third set, a single Semien on the left and a double Guerrero on the center-left placed the riders, once again, in the second and third. Semien scored on Bichette’s sacrifice volley on the right.
Bichette’s infield bouncer in the center for a hit scored designated hitter George Springer in the fifth inning. Springer scored in the middle with one out and showed good agitation going from first to third on wild Wacha pitch with Guerrero at home plate.
Guerrero, who hit base for a third time with a walk in the fifth, scored on Hernandez’s single down center.
Joakim Soria picked up Ray to start the eighth. He struggled with a single lead against Taylor Walls and a two-point Brett Phillips shot down midfield.
But Soria settled in to end the round with a three-point advantage, and Jordan Romano finished Tampa Bay with his 18th save in a ninth-one-two-three.
The win was the Blue Jays’ 16th in their last 19 outings and allowed them to keep pace in the AL wild card race.