Vladimir Guerrero Jr. did everything in his power to break the Blue Jays’ slippage, but another late meltdown ended their residence in Dunedin with six straight losses, each more frustrating than the last.
Guerrero threw two home runs in Monday afternoon’s 14-8 loss, putting him tied with Ronald Acuña Jr. for the Major League lead. He put the Blue Jays on his back – again – and carried them to extra innings. Then Marcus Semien breathed new life into Toronto, tying things up at the end of the 10th with a two-point explosion.
The Rays have continued to do what they do best, however, making all the right plays at the right times while avoiding the one big mistake. After trading punches in that 10th inning, Tampa Bay scored seven runs in the 11th against Joel Payamps and Tim Mayza, turning one of the Blue Jays’ tightest games of the season into an unbalanced loss by a touchdown.
Toronto was also forced to play from behind for most of the game, after Sunday’s terrible loss spilled over into the first inning on Monday. Trent Thornton, as the opener, loaded the goals and walked in a run, which Travis Bergen did three times to postpone the Rays game on Sunday. Then, Thornton ceded a grand slam to Joey Wendle, putting the Blue Jays 5-0 before even going home.
“Do you know how many teams would leave after we lost 5-0? Lots of teams that I know. Not this team, ”said manager Charlie Montoyo. “I am so proud of this team to come back and to have succeeded. in a game until the end. We haven’t stopped trying. You have to give these guys credit. Of course we lost, but it’s a good team. When you have a chance to get them, you have to get them. If you give them another chance, they will probably catch you because they are sexy.
It’s a tough time for moral victories, however, if you’re the Blue Jays. The veterans on this list understand that streaks come and go and young players are wise beyond their years, but they are competitors and frustration is to be expected. It’s a tough balance for someone like Guerrero, in particular, who leads a hot streak but doesn’t achieve the team success he prefers.
“We go out there and try to win every game. I spoke to the younger ones like [Santiago] Espinal, telling them to keep their heads up, ”Guerrero said through a translator. “Let’s continue to work hard. Let’s keep going there to try to win games. I’m just trying to be a bit of a leader myself, trying to speak up and be heard while still doing what I’m doing. Like I said, we’ll be fine and everything will be fine.
Guerrero’s first homerun of the day was a moonlit, bringing the batter’s eye to the center and exiting the TD Ballpark. At 461 feet, it was the second longest circuit in Guerrero’s career, and with an exit speed of 117.4 mph, it was tied for the Blue Jays’ hardest-hit circuit as measured by Statcast.
This one was more friendly to the top rollers, but Guerrero’s second was the one that mattered the most. With a runner in the third and two outs in the bottom of the eighth, Guerrero pulled out a slider over the plate and lifted it into the air. He’s run 384 feet and would be a home run in just two MLB stadiums, according to Statcast, but consider this latest favor from TD Ballpark.
At the time, it looked like the moment was going to rock the game, giving the Blue Jays momentum in the extras. It even brought out the emotion of Guerrero, who was more reserved as a young player but who brings out his great personality more often in 2021.
“By then we had already lost three games against Tampa [Bay] and I was lucky enough to tie it up. It was just a big boost for us, for me and for the team, ”said Guerrero. “We want to go there and we try to win no matter what. It was a lot of emotion when I hit this home run to tie the game.
Guerrero’s performance adds yet another hallmark game to his breakout season. After two years that fell short of expectations, the 22-year-old has grown into one of baseball’s best players, fully realizing the potential that made him No.1 two years ago. For the team, however, it’s the most deflating loss of the season, even in the wake of Sunday’s reliever box collapse.