If the Blue Jays are going to turn around the disappointing start to their season it will be on the back of Jose Bautista.
While he is not a vocal captain and demurs at the suggestion he is anything but one of the guys, Bautista showed once again on Wednesday night that he will lead this team with his bat.
The Jays slugging right fielder twice tied the game with a pair of monster home runs — including a ninth-inning blast to send the game into extra innings — paving the way for his walk-off single in the 10th as the Jays defeated the Rays 4-3.
The game looked almost lost in the ninth when Evan Longoria and James Loney, two of the hottest hitters in baseball and the most dangerous bats in the Rays lineup, combined to score the potential game-winning run in the ninth against usually rock-solid closer Casey Janssen.
Longoria and Loney had been mostly controlled by Blue Jays starter Mark Buehrle. The veteran lefty struck out the pair twice each and, aside from a third-inning walk to Longoria, kept them off the bases.
But with Buehrle gone, the meat of the Rays order got to work with Longoria extending his 16-game hitting streak with a double into the right-field corner before Loney drove him home with a base hit up the middle.
Janssen, who has now given up runs in two straight appearances after giving up just a single run in his previous 13 outings, looked out of sync once again.
Janssen, who had off-season shoulder surgery and has been used cautiously in the early part of the season, had an eight-day layoff before giving up a pair of runs on Monday. He admitted after that game that he was rusty and lacked his usual sharpness.
Up to the ninth it had mostly been a tightly played pitching duel between Buehrle and young Rays righty Jeremy Hellickson.
The Jays took a 1-0 lead in the first when Anthony Gose led off the game with a double down the left-field line and was driven home in the next at-bat by Bautista. Gose, who was called up on Monday, got the start in left field — his first of the season — to give Melky Cabrera a day to rest his hobbled legs.