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The Strike Zone

Blue Jays ride walk-off sac bunt to beat Rays 3-2 and win ninth straight

(Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images) The Jays keep finding ways to win. This time, it was on a walk-off bunt and throwing error. (Tom Szczerbowski/Getty)

Some elements of the first-place Blue Jays’ ninth straight win made it similar to their preceding eight. Edwin Encarnacion, for example, produced a big hit. It wasn’t a homer (he failed to go yard for the first time in four games), but instead a first inning, two-run single off Rays starter Chris Archer that gave Toronto an early lead.

Other parts of the game were more unusual --  specifically its ending. The Rays tied things up at two in the top of the second, on a two-run homer by Wil Myers, and the score stayed at 2-2 until the bottom of the ninth. Dioner Navarro singled off reliever Juan Carlos Oviedo, and then Kevin Pillar pinch ran for him. Then Anthony Gose bunted, and this happened:

[mlbvideo id="33253241" width="600" height="400" /]

In case you didn’t catch all that, Oviedo fielded the ball -- probably unwisely, as it looked as if it might be headed foul – and threw it past second baseman Sean Rodriguez, who was covering first, and into right field. Myers, out in right, took forever to pick the ball up and Pillar rounded third and headed for home. Myers’ throw was a little up the third base line, allowing Pillar to triumphantly dive headfirst across home and giving Toronto yet another win.

Three bases on a single bunt – and Pillar hadn’t even been running on the pitch and actually stopped at second for a beat! That’s the sort of play that happens for teams when everything is clicking, as it is for the Jays. They’re now two games shy of their longest winning streak ever (they’ve twice won 11 straight, once in 1987 and once in 1998). More importantly, they’ve suddenly got the most wins in baseball, a 3.5 game lead in the AL East and, according to FanGraphs, a 72.7% chance of making the postseason for the first time since '93.
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