TORONTO — Though the Blue Jays were popping champagne corks to celebrate a playoff berth, Rays CF Kevin Kiermaier had his own success story in Saturday's 10-8 loss, hitting a home run off buddy David Price.
"It's something I'll never forget," Kiermaier said. "David is a great friend of mine. His resume already speaks for itself … he's already one of the game's elite pitchers. For me to hit a home run off him, it's a really cool thing.
"I'm sure he'll text me (today) with something funny to say. That's just the guy he is. Awesome guy. I was just happy to get one off him right there, because every time I see him from here on out we can always joke around about it."
The fourth-inning homer to straightaway center was more than a personal souvenir, though, as it was the second straight and third of his career that Kiermaier, a lefty hitter, has hit off a lefty pitcher. Overall he is hitting .250 vs. lefties, .270 vs. right-handers, a sign of what manager Kevin Cash said is an improved approach.
"I feel good off them of late," Kiermaier said. "It's just a mind-set."
Though Kiermaier was upset over "a bad job of assuming" either RF Steven Souza Jr. or 2B Logan Forsythe would catch a third-inning pop-up he couldn't adjust to in time to get, he did make another spectacular over-the-shoulder, back-to-the-field basket catch in the fifth.
"That was like no big deal to us, but to 29 other centerfielders it probably is," Cash said.
STOP AND GO: There was an odd sequence when Souza lined a ball over RF Jose Bautista's head with the bases loaded in the third.
First, C Rene Rivera, after correctly going back to tag, didn't know the ball wasn't caught and held up between second and third. Then Jays 2B Cliff Pennington errantly threw the ball past first, and a Jays fan picked it up. The Rays initially looked to score three, but Cash said the umps were correct in sending Brandon Guyer back to third based on fan interference rules. The Rays eventually got four runs in the inning.
PITCHING IN: LHP Jake McGee was activated, having missed 35 games due to a knee injury that required arthroscopic surgery on Aug. 21, and is looking to make two or three appearances. … LHP Matt Moore will start Tuesday against Miami and LHP Drew Smyly on Wednesday, but Cash said they have not decided who will pitch, or when, for the remaining four games: "We're going to check on the guys and see where everybody is." … RHP Matt Andriese said he is hoping to go four or five innings today in his first start since Aug. 13.
BIRTHDAY BASH: RHP Chris Archer was the first pitcher to give up nine or more runs on his birthday since Freddie Fitzsimmons for the New York Giants in 1932, and the first in the AL since Hollis "Sloppy" Thurston for the White Sox in 1925.
MISCELLANY: Rivera was back behind the plate with Archer starting, Cash acknowledging the "comfort" factor they had in working together most of the season. J.P. Arencibia caught Archer's previous outing, and the unfamiliarity seemed obvious in terms of pitch-calling and blocking. … 3B Evan Longoria got a DH day Saturday, with rookie Richie Shaffer making the start at third. … Cash said he will use most of the young players today. … Souza was back in the No. 2 hole where he started the season before being dropped down. "I hope he's hitting fourth or fifth eventually," Cash said.