TORONTO (AP) — Vladimir Guerrero Jr. hit his 100th home run at age 23, becoming the 10th youngest player in MLB history to reach the mark, and the Toronto Blue Jays beat the Tampa Bay Rays 5-1 on Wednesday night to ensure winning a rare five-game series against a wild-card rival.
Toronto (81-62) has won three of four from the Rays (79-63), who dropped one game behind Seattle (80-82) heading into Thursday’s series finale, Those teams are in the three AL wild-card positions for the expanded playoffs, with Baltimore (75-67) four games behind the Rays.
Guerrero homered off Drew Rasmussen in the first inning, his 28th home run this season. At 23 years, 182 days, he is the youngest Blue Jays player to reach 100 homers, a mark that had been held by Carlos Delgado at 26 years, 84 days.
Guerrero said he planned to give his Hall of Fame father the ball from his milestone home run.
“He’s going to feel very proud of me,” Guerrero said through a translator. “When your son does something like that, I’m sure any dad would feel proud.”
Guerrero reached the 100-homer mark two years younger than his father, but Vlad Sr. did it in 438 games to Jr.’s 486.
Ross Stripling (8-4) allowed one run and three hits in 6 1/3 innings, struck out four and walked one to win for the third time in five starts. He won for the first time in nine career appearances against the Rays.
Stripling has pitched at least six innings in six straight starts since returning from a hip injury.
“Since I came off the IL, I’ve been able to really use my pitch mix to my advantage and keep guys off balance,” he said.
Adam Cimber replaced Stripling and gave up a one-out single to Manuel Margot. Christian Bethancourt followed with a potential double-play grounder but second baseman Santiago Espinal lost track of outs and…