Evan Longoria hit a tie-breaking RBI single in the 10th inning to propel the Rays to a 2-1 win over the Blue Jays in front of 38,869 at Rogers Centre on Sunday afternoon.
"After the loss [Saturday], our guys came back once again and played a balanced game after a tough loss. Beautiful people," Maddon said. "If you are managing this team, you would be a fool to not support this group of guys based on how they go about their business every day."
It wasn't easy, and at times it wasn't pretty, but the Rays found a way to take two of three from the Blue Jays and win a series on the road for the 10th time in their last 11 tries. The Saturday game they lost is under protest, and if it were to be upheld, Tampa Bay would actually have a chance for a sweep.
After coming up short with runners on second and third and one out in the ninth, Tampa Bay delivered an inning later against right-hander Sergio Santos (0-3). Toronto right fielder Nolan Reimold misplayed a ball hit by Logan Forsythe, and the error allowed runners to reach second and third for Longoria. The third baseman smacked a base hit to left to score Ben Zobrist and give the Rays a 2-1 lead. Forsythe also came home on the play, but he was thrown out at the plate by Melky Cabrera.
Brad Boxberger worked the 10th to earn his his second save and preserve the one-run lead, but the inning went anything but smoothly.
The Blue Jays had runners on the corners with none out but Boxberger got Jose Reyes and Melky Cabrera to each pop out on first-pitch offerings before retiring Reimold on strikes to end the contest.
"It's kind of easy to just give up in that situation and say, 'They're going to at least score one run, we'll play for the tie,'" Longoria said. "Boxberger did a great job making this pitches right there. It's good to come out on top of that one. Hopefully that's some good momentum going into Baltimore."
Rays starter Chris Archer did his job, and he was cruising until the Blue Jays got to him in the seventh.
The right-hander surrendered back-to-back one-out singles, which put runners on the corners for Juan Francisco, who hit a sacrifice fly to the warning track in right field to even the game at 1.
Archer's struggles in the inning weren't over, as he walked Munenori Kawasaki on five pitches to load the bases for Reyes. But Archer showed his composure and struck out Reyes on a slider to leave the bases loaded.
"That's one of those situations where you practice in the bullpen, practice in the offseason, you run through some scenarios that you might be in, and I was totally confident in the execution of it because I had already practiced it in my bullpen and mentally beforehand," said Archer, who has allowed two earned runs or fewer in all four of his career starts at Rogers Centre.
Other than having to battle out of a fifth-inning jam, too, Archer was in control. The 23-year-old threw seven innings of one-run ball, allowed six hits, walked one and punched out six. In seven second-half starts, Archer has a 2.25 ERA and 46 strikeouts over 44 innings.
"If you're facing this Blue Jays' lineup and you only give up one run, it's something to be happy about," Archer said. "So I'm walking away happy and confident and looking at all the bright things about that game."
Archer pitched with a lead for the majority of the contest after the Rays struck first in the opening frame.
Zobrist hit a one-out double and advanced to third on a wild pitch by Toronto starter Drew Hutchison with Matt Joyce at the dish. Joyce walked on seven pitches to put runners on the corners for Longoria, who grounded into a forceout, which scored Zobrist and gave Tampa Bay a 1-0 lead.
Hutchison went six strong innings, allowing one run on six hits, while walking two and striking out seven. It was a strong bounce-back effort for the 24-year-old, who allowed 13 earned runs over a pair of losses his last two times out.
Toronto right fielder Jose Bautista was ejected in the sixth inning by home-plate umpire Bill Welke after arguing over a called third strike.
Blue Jays manager John Gibbons was not pleased with his star's ejection. It would have been Bautista up with two outs in the 10th instead of Reimold had he not been tossed from the contest.
"Bottom line, we need him in the game," Gibbons said. "Say your piece, get ... out of there. We're trying to get in the playoffs, we need you on the field. In a way, he's a marked man in this game."
Tampa Bay closer Jake McGee (4-1) worked two innings, the third time he has done so this season, and he retired all six batters he faced in the eighth and ninth.
The Rays will continue their seven-game road trip against the Orioles on Monday night.