TORONTO — Rays RHP Brad Boxberger had a rare off day in Saturday’s 5-4 loss to the Blue Jays in 10 innings.
Boxberger entered the game in the seventh inning to protect a one-run lead and gave up the lead in the span of two batters when he allowed a double to Edwin Encarnacion and a home run to Dioner Navarro that put the Jays in front 4-3. Boxberger then allowed a double to Colby Rasmus and was lifted for RHP Grant Balfour.
“The man’s not perfect,” manager Joe Maddon said. “He’s been outstanding. He’s been better than outstanding. This is going to happen once in a while.”
Navarro’s hit was just the second in the last 59 at-bats by a left-hander against Boxberger.
Boxberger said he was not able to locate his fastball and change-up. Both were up in the zone.
Boxberger said he was initially surprised that Navarro was able to put a good swing on the pitch he drove over the right-field fence.
“But I went back and looked at the video and he did what he should have done with that ball,” Boxberger said. “It was right down the middle and he got it. ... (I was trying to go) down and away. I think if I make my pitch there he either rolls over or does something that’s not hard contact, but I got it up.”
KK’s aggressiveness hurts this time
The Rays rallied in the ninth inning and tied the score at 4 when James Loney drove the ball the other way to the left-field corner with Wil Myers on second base and Kevin Kiermaier on first after a pinch-hit single.
Myers scored easily, and Kiermaier was planning on following Myers to the plate until he saw the stop sign from 3B coach Tom Foley. Kiermaier stopped but was tagged out while trying to make it back to the base.
“He was waving me around, and once I put my head down to see third base and look at the bag, make sure I touch it, I looked up and he had his hands up (for the stop sign),” Kiermaier said. “It was too hard for me to slow down right there. I thought he was going to send me the whole way to score right there. I thought I could have.”
Foley said he was waving Kiermaier around until he saw that LF Melky Cabrera fielded the ball cleanly. Kiermaier was just getting to third when Foley put up the stop sign.
Foley said Kiermaier did nothing wrong and would have made it back safely to third base if not for a perfect throw from Cabrera.
“For me, if I have to think about it again, I have to stop Kiermaier a little earlier,” Foley said. “But I have to make sure he fields it cleanly, catches the ball. But nothing against KK. Keep doing what he’s doing.”
Lost in Maddon’s protest over the umpires allowing Blue Jays manager John Gibbons to challenge a call in a timely manner, Boxberger’s blown save and Kiermaier getting thrown out at third in the ninth inning was another strong performance by RHP Jeremy Hellickson.
Hellickson allowed two runs on three hits and struck out eight in 61⁄3 innings.
The two runs came in the third inning and were the result of a one-out walk to Danny Valencia and a pair of two-out doubles by Jose Reyes and Cabrera.
LF Brandon Guyer tried to make a diving catch on Reyes’ double, but the ball sliced back and kicked off his glove.
Maddon thought Guyer should have been charged with an error.
“He didn’t lose it in the lights,” Maddon said. “He may have tripped a little, but that ball needs to be played.”
Hellickson pitched at least six innings for the third time in his past four starts and has allowed three or four runs in each of those outings.
2B Ben Zobrist recorded the 500th RBI of his career. ... Maddon said he used LHP Jeff Beliveau to face Reyes with the winning run on second in the 10th inning because he was saving LHP Jake McGee for later in the game if the Rays took the lead. Beliveau threw a cutter to Reyes, because LHP Drew Smyly had so much success throwing cutters to Reyes on Friday. Reyes singled in the winning run on that cutter. ... Maddon said he didn’t pinch run for C Jose Molina after his RBI single in the seventh because he didn’t want to take the catcher out of the game at that point. Sean Rodriguez followed with a double, but the Rays didn’t score again in the inning. ... The Rays’ streak of allowing three or fewer runs in a road game ended at 19, two shy of tying the MLB record of 21 set in 1908 by the Cubs.