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Blue Jays homer their way to second straight 5-3 victory over Rays

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When does a slow start become a troubling one?

When do stranded baserunners come back to haunt a team?

Both questions may soon have to be answered by the Tampa Bay Rays, who lost a 5-3 game to Toronto for the second straight night on Monday night. Tampa Bay left nine runners on base, and they were only 1-for-12 with runners in scoring position.

“I thought Drew was good,” manager Kevin Cash said. “He just got beat up by the long ball”

The game was not without some controversy. In the second inning, with the Rays up 1-0 on Steven Souza’s home run, Josh Thole hit a ball to the right-centerfield gap. A fan reached down and grabbed the ball. At first, Thole was granted a double as the umpires ruled the ball was beneath the home run line. After a review, however, the umpires reversed themselves and called it a home run.

In all, the Jays hit three home runs — Josh Donaldson, Thole, and Michael Saunders — all homered for the Jays. Particularly vexing to pitcher Drew Smyly is that Thole and Saunders are lefties. Smyly had only 12 starts a year ago, so he was attempting to get off to a good start.

“I can’t let that happen,” Smyly said. “I can’t give up two home runs to two different lefties in that lineup. They have enough hard-hitting righties to where I can’t let those lefties beat me.”

It is only the fifth time the Rays have been 0-2 at the start of  a season. If they lose tonight, they’ll be 0-3 for only the second time.

Smyly wasn’t helped by a five-minute plus review on a foul ball that Souza was ruled to have dropped, then caught.,

“It is a little ridiculous that they spent 5-10 minutes on the replay,” Smyly said. “I don’t agree with that. From all of our angles, I don’t know how you can overturn Thole’s home run as well, but it is what it is.”

The Rays were led by Kevin Kiermaier, who had three hits.

The Rays and Jays play the third game of the set tonight when Jake Odorizzi pitches against Aaron Sanchez.

Gary Shelton is one of the most recognized and honored sportswriters in the history of the state. He has won the APSE's national columnist of the year twice and finished in the top 10 eight times. He was named the Florida Sportswriter of the Year six times. Gary joined SaintPetersBlog in the spring, helping to bring a sports presence to the website. Over his time in sports writing, Gary has covered 29 Super Bowls, 10 Olympics, Final Fours, Masters, Wimbledons and college national championships. He was there when the Bucs won a Super Bowl, when the Lightning won a Stanley Cup and when the Rays went to a World Series. He has seen Florida, FSU and Miami all win national championships, and he covered Bear Bryant, Bobby Bowden and Don Shula along the way. He and his wife Janet have four children: Eric, Kevin, K.C. and Tori. To contact, visit garysheltonsports@gmail.com.

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