Blue Jays 8, Devil Rays 5
ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (AP)—Frank Thomas isn’t talking numbers as he closes in on 500 home runs.
“When I get to 500, I’ll be happy—extremely happy,” Thomas said. “But I’ve got my focus somewhere else. I don’t want to get caught trying to just get to 500 because that can be a long, long chase. I’m not going to put pressure on myself.”
Tampa Bay, which rallied to win its previous two games, scored four runs in the fourth inning to cut it to 7-5. Ohka was lifted with the Devil Rays threatening again with one out in the fifth.
Blue Jays reliever Shaun Marcum (1-0) struck out five of the seven batters he faced in 2 1-3 perfect innings to get the victory. Jason Frasor pitched a scoreless eighth and B.J. Ryan got the final three outs for his second save in three opportunities.
Thomas, signed as a free agent after spending last season with Oakland, said he’d ultimately like to wind up with 600 homers. He hit a 3-1 pitch from Fossum (0-1) in the second inning for his ninth career grand slam.
“You go to a new team, you like to get that first one out of the way,” Toronto manager John Gibbons said. “It was a big one, but he can do that. He’s done that his whole career.”
Fossum, who missed the final month of last season after having shoulder surgery, allowed seven runs and eight hits in 3 2-3 innings. He walked one and hit two batters before being replaced by Gary Glover.
“The pitch to Frank hurt, obviously,” Devil Rays manager Joe Maddon said. “If he could have avoided that, it would have been a different game.”
From there, things deteriorated quickly for the Blue Jays starter.
Akinori Iwamura walked and one batter later Brendan Harris hit a three-run homer that trimmed Tampa Bay’s deficit to 7-4. Ohka made matters worse when he walked B.J. Upton, gave up a double to Crawford and allowed the fourth run of the inning to score on a wild pitch.
Gibbons went to his bullpen when Ohka, clinging to a 7-5 lead, gave up one-out singles to Young and Ty Wigginton in the fifth. Scott Downs walked Iwamura to load the bases, but the Blue Jays escaped the jam when Downs struck out Dioner Navarro and Marcum fanned Harris to end the inning.
Toronto’s bullpen allowed one hit over the last five innings.
“You get a big lead, and you cough it up sometimes,” Gibbons said. “It’s tough to stop that momentum, but we were able to do that.”
Glaus left the game in the fifth inning with pain in his left heel. Gibbons said he wasn’t sure if the third baseman would be in the lineup for Sunday’s series finale. … Crawford set a Devil Rays record with the sixth leadoff homer of his career, one more than Rocco Baldelli and Randy Winn. … Saturday was the 30th anniversary of the first game in Blue Jays history, a 9-5 victory over the White Sox in Toronto. … Baldelli, who has been bothered by a sore right hamstring, started in center field. He was the designated hitter in Tampa Bay’s first three games. … Thomas’ grand slam moved him into a tie with Al Kaline for 32nd on the career RBI list with 1,583.