Tulowitzki returns, AL East champ Blue Jays rally past Rays
ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (AP) Troy Tulowitzki doubled and singled in his return to the Toronto lineup after missing three weeks with injuries, and the AL East champion Blue Jays rallied past the Tampa Bay Rays 8-4 Friday night.
Tulowitzki went 2 for 5 and scored a run. Earlier in the day, the star shortstop homered and doubled twice in a simulated game against Toronto minor league pitchers at Tropicana Field.
Edwin Encarnacion and Russell Martin homered for the Blue Jays, who started the day tied with Kansas City in the race for the AL’s best record and home-field advantage throughout the postseason.
Mark Buehrle (15-7) gave up four runs and six hits in 6 2-3 innings. He is two innings away from reaching 200 for the 15th consecutive season.
Tampa Bay starter Erasmo Ramirez allowed four runs and 10 hits over 5 1-3 innings. Enny Romero (0-2) took the loss.
Tulowitzki hadn’t played since Sept. 12, when he cracked his scapula and bruised muscles in his upper back after colliding with outfielder Kevin Pillar in a game against the New York Yankees.
Blue Jays manager John Gibbons plans to give Tulowitzki Saturday night’s game off and then have him play in Sunday’s regular-season finale against the Rays.
Pillar had an RBI double and Ryan Goins hit a two-run triple in a four-run sixth as Toronto went up 5-4.
Encarnacion hit his 38th homer, a solo shot, before Martin made it 8-4 with his two-run drive during the seventh.
Encarnacion, Josh Donaldson (41) and Jose Bautista (40) tied the team record – set by Jose Canseco (46), Carlos Delgado (38) and Shawn Green (35) in 1998 – for most homers by a trio in one season.
Mikie Mahtook hit a three-run homer off Buehrle to complete a four-run fifth that gave the Rays a 4-1 lead. The rookie has hit three of his eight career homers off the Toronto left-hander.
Blue Jays: Tulowitzki also walked in six plate appearances of the simulated game against a pair of minor leaguers. AL Division Series Game 1 starter David Price also took part in the simulated game and got Tulowitzki on a called third strike and a flyball to center.
Rays: C Curt Casali, out since Aug. 26 with a strained left hamstring, will not play again this season.
Blue Jays RHP Marco Estrada (13-8) and Rays RHP Chris Archer (12-13) are Saturday night’s scheduled starters.