Morales hits grand slam, Blue Jays beat Rays 5-2

Morales hits grand slam, Blue Jays beat Rays 5-2

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — Kendrys Morales gave the Blue Jays a much-needed lift after Toronto started the regular season with consecutive losses.

Morales hit his fourth career grand slam, Marcus Stroman pitched 6 1/3 effective innings and the Blue Jays beat the Tampa Bay Rays 5-2 on Thursday night.

“It was just a matter of time before the guys started heating up,” Toronto manager John Gibbons said.

Morales homered off Blake Snell (0-1) in the third. Stroman (1-0), the MVP of last month’s World Baseball Classic, allowed one run and six hits in his 2017 debut.

“It feels really satisfying knowing that we had two defeats already, and it’s something that is hard to do,” Morales said through a translator. “So I’m just happy that it happened in a win.”

Snell gave up five runs and four hits in 6 2/3 innings. The lefty struck out five and walked five.

Darwin Barney had a one-out single in the third, and Josh Donaldson and Jose Bautista both drew two-out walks before Morales sent an 0-1 pitch into left-centre field seats for a 4-0 lead.

“I’m upset about the walks.” Snell said.

Toronto didn’t homer in losing both games during a series at Baltimore. The Blue Jays have never gone homerless in their first three games of a season.

The Blue Jays signed Morales to a $33 million, three-year contract during the off-season to fill the offensive void left by the departure of Edwin Encarnacion, who joined Cleveland as a free agent. Morales hit 30 homers and drove in 93 runs last season for Kansas City.

Toronto went up 5-0 on Barney’s bunt that first baseman Logan Morrison was charged with an error for mishandling in the seventh. Barney had two hits and walked once.

Stroman, who induced three double plays, left after giving up Morrison’s run-scoring single in the seventh.

“I threw a lot of sinkers today,” Stroman said. “I never come in with necessarily a certain game plan. It’s more like I see how everything is working and kind of go from there.”

Joe Biagini replaced Stroman and got an inning-ending double play from Tim Beckham.

Jason Grilli came in for Joe Smith with two on and one out in the ninth and threw a run-scoring wild pitch before getting his first save.

Tampa Bay right fielder Steven Souza Jr. remained in the game after colliding with Blue Jays catcher Russell Martin during the fifth while trying to score on Beckham’s grounder to Stroman. Souza needed assistance after bruising his left leg, but was back out to play defence in the sixth.

“Some scrapes,” Souza said. “The shin guard came down on my shin. Nothing serious.”

Souza had three hits, including a pair of doubles.


Blue Jays: Closer Roberto Osuna (neck spasms) will throw in a simulated game Saturday and is expected to be ready for Toronto’s home opener Tuesday night against Milwaukee. … 2B Devon Travis, slowed by a bruised right knee during spring training, got a planned day off from the starting lineup. He had off-season surgery to remove a small flap of cartilage from the knee.

Rays: OF Colby Rasmus, coming back from hip surgery, started a rehab assignment with Class A Charlotte and was hitless in three at-bats.


Steve Pearce hit leadoff for the Jays and went 0 for 4.

It’s a role he may fill on a regular basis when Travis gets a day off.


Blue Jays: LHP Francisco Liriano will make his first start of the season Friday night against the Rays. Liriano’s lone outing at Tropicana Field last year came out of the bullpen Sept. 2 when he allowed three runs without recording an out.

Rays: RHP Matt Andriese, Friday night’s starter, was 8-8 last year after starting the season by winning his first six decisions.


More AP baseball:

Mark Didtler, The Associated Press

Just Posted

Penticton Vees erase two-goal deficit to defeat Trail

The Vees take Game 1 of the second round of the BCHL playoffs

2.5 years in Penticton courthouse over neighbour assault ends

Man pleaded guilty, withdrew, stood trial, pleaded guilty to assault described by Crown as ‘vicious’

UBCO civil engineer touts cohousing option

Gord Lovegrove says cohousing is sustainable social and economic lifestyle

Country star takes a dip for charity

Brett Kissel went for a dip in Okanagan Lake while in Penticton to raise money for Her International

Pursuit of Excellence defeats OHA in female prep hockey final

Okanagan Hockey Academy lost to Pursuit of Excellence 6-3 at the CSSHL final in Penticton

Sharing the voices of the mountains with Spirit North

Celebrating the first season of the Spirit North ski program for Indigenous youth at Nickel Plate

How to keep local news visible in your Facebook feed

Facebook has changed the news feed to emphasize personal connections. You might see less news.

BCHL Today: Wenatchee Wild goaltenders a cause for concern

BCHL Today is a (near) daily look at what’s going on around the league and the junior A world.

Canadian survivors, supporters rally against proposed ’60s Scoop settlement

Some have accused the government of underestimating the number of survivors

Nordic athlete Arendz to be Canada’s flagbearer at Paralympic closing ceremony

The biathlete and cross-country skier from Hartsville has raced to five medals in Pyeongchang

Salmon Arm community cheers on Natalie Wilkie as she wins first gold medal

Local skier tops the podium in 7.5km race at the PyeongChang Paralympics

Experts: Society has a role in trying to prevent domestic violence

Experts are speaking out following the murder of a woman and her son in Ontario

Progress on fixing Phoenix pay system backlog could be short-lived: Ottawa

Feds have said they won’t try to recover money overpaid until all outstanding issues are fixed

Most Read