TORONTO (AP) — Yandy Díaz hit a three-run home run and the Tampa Bay Rays — starting an unprecedented nine Latin American players on Roberto Clemente Day — routed Toronto 11-0 on Thursday to pull within a half-game of the Blue Jays in the wild-card chase.
Clemente, the late Hall of Fame outfielder from Puerto Rico, was a two-time World Series winner and NL MVP who played 18 seasons with Pittsburgh. The Blue Jays’ Latin American starters are from five countries: Colombia, Cuba, Mexico, Venezuela and the Dominican Republic.
“Very happy, especially on a day like today,” Díaz said. “I think the Latinos are really putting a stamp on the game of baseball.”
All nine Rays starters, as well as bases coaches Chris Prieto and Rodney Linares, wore No. 21 to honor Clemente. The nine starters posed for a photo on the field after the game.
Díaz said he hoped to put his jersey and a lineup card in a frame to remember the historic day.
Rays manager Kevin Cash said the lineup was based on the batters he wanted to face Toronto right-hander Kevin Gausman.
“Gausman we’ve got as a reverse-split guy, so load up the righties,” Cash said. “It just worked out that they were all the Latin background.”
Shane McClanahan returned from the injured list to pitch five shutout innings.
“I’ve been dying to get back and help this team any way I can,” McClanahan said.
Isaac Paredes hit a solo home run and added an RBI single as the Rays (80-63) won the fifth and final game of the series. Toronto (81-63) will play a four-game series at Tampa Bay, starting next Thursday.
Seattle (80-62), which holds one of the three AL wild-card spots, was idle Thursday, but moved percentage points ahead of Toronto.
Díaz homered in a four-run second inning, his ninth….