TORONTO (AP) — All on one swing, Vladimir Guerrero Jr. topped his Hall of Fame father and moved ahead of Shohei Ohtani.
Guerrero hit his major league-leading 45th home run, Alek Manoah set a career high by pitching eight shutout innings of one-hit ball, and the Toronto Blue Jays routed the Tampa Bay Rays 8-1 on Monday night.
Teoscar Hernández had his first career five-hit game and Bo Bichette added a solo homer, his 24th, as the surging Blue Jays improved to 12-1 in September.
“Tonight, in all facets of the game, the Blue Jays just dominated us,” Rays center fielder Kevin Kiermaier said.
The AL East-leading Rays, outhit 17-2, lost for the fourth time in five games and are 5-7 this month after going 21-6 in August.
“We hate losing games, don’t get me wrong,” Kiermaier said, “but no one is hanging their head or slouching their shoulders after the last four or five days.”
Facing left-hander Adam Conley in the sixth, Guerrero lined a 3-1 pitch down the left-field line, breaking a tie with Ohtani, the Angels’ two-way star, for most home runs in the big leagues.
Guerrero’s homer had a launch angle of 15 degrees, tying San Diego’s Manny Machado (Aug. 20 against Philadelphia) for the lowest on a home run that cleared the fence this season.
“I think the third baseman jumped,” Blue Jays manager Charlie Montoyo said. “I thought it was going to hit the wall — there was no way it was going out. When it went out I went, ‘Oh my God.’ Not many people can do that.”
With his homer, Guerrero also eclipsed the single-season high set by his dad with Montreal in 2000. The drive came off the bat at 113.9 mph and was projected at 356 feet.
Toronto leads the majors with 232 home runs this year.
Kiermaier climbed the wall to make a spectacular catch on Lourdes Gurriel Jr.’s deep drive in the seventh.
“Awesome play by KK,” Rays manager Kevin Cash said.
Gurriel had three hits and two RBIs, and Breyvic Valera added three hits and drove in three runs as the Blue Jays maintained their position atop the crowded AL wild-card chase. Toronto began the day tied with Boston, but the Blue Jays have played two fewer games than the Red Sox.
“We know what’s at stake, we know what we’re playing for,” Manoah said. “Huge series right here, got to get as many as we can and keep it going.”
With 17 hits in all, it was another offensive outburst by the Blue Jays, who scored 22 runs against Baltimore on Sunday. That came one day after Toronto put up 22 runs in a doubleheader against the Orioles.
“After the third or fourth inning, the game was basically over,” Cash said.
Making heavy use of his slider, Manoah (6-2) walked none and struck out 10, one shy of his career best.
“That slider was nasty tonight against some good left-handed hitters,” Montoyo said.
Manoah won for the first time since beating the Angels on Aug. 11, snapping a five-start winless streak.
“His fastball is kind of unique,” Cash said. “It really gets on hitters quick. Then he’s able to throw that breaking ball underneath. He pitched really well.”
The rookie right-hander was perfect until Joey Wendle singled on a two-strike fastball with two outs in the fifth. Manoah responded by striking out Taylor Walls to end the inning.
Rays outfielder Austin Meadows hit a home run off Trevor Richards in the ninth, his 25th.
Tampa Bay left-hander Ryan Yarbrough (8-5) allowed seven runs and 10 hits in 2 1/3 innings of early relief.
“His stuff, it’s a tick down right now for whatever reason,” Cash said. “He’s battling through it.”
Manoah reached 100 career strikeouts quicker than any pitcher in Blue Jays history, doing so in his 17th game. Juan Guzmán and Drew Hutchison each needed 20 games to reach the mark.
The Rays and Blue Jays met in their fourth different location this season. Besides Toronto and St. Petersburg, Florida, they also played in Toronto’s temporary homes of Dunedin, Florida, and Buffalo, New York.
Cash said INF Brandon Lowe was held out of the starting lineup because his legs are “beat up.” Cash said Lowe was available off the bench.
The Blue Jays recalled LHP Ryan Borucki from Triple-A Buffalo and optioned RHP Trent Thornton to their top farm club.
Blue Jays RHP José Berríos (11-7, 3.52 ERA) faces Rays RHP Drew Rasmussen (2-1, 3.25) on Tuesday. Berríos is 0-2 with a 7.15 ERA in four career meetings with the Rays, but hasn’t faced them since May 2019 with Minnesota.
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Ian Harrison, The Associated Press