Rays drop into tie for wild card
The Tampa Bay Rays have left themselves with a pretty big Game 162.
Tampa Bay dropped game into a tie with Texas for the second AL wild-card berth, losing to Toronto 7-2 Saturday. Ryan Goins and Kevin Pillar hit two-run home runs for the Blue Jays, and J.A. Happ won for the first time in four starts.
Cleveland (91-70) opened a one-game lead over the Rays and Rangers (both 90-71) for the wild card by stretching its winning streak to nine with a victory at Minnesota.
"I'm excited for tomorrow," Rays slugger Evan Longoria said. "We like to make it interesting, that's for sure."
Tampa Bay won the wild card in 2011 when Evan Longoria's 12th-inning homer beat the New York Yankees 8-7, capping a seven-run comeback. Boston's loss at Baltimore that night put the Rays into the postseason.
"We've been here before, we've been in these moments," manager Joe Maddon said. "We never do things seemingly easily so let's just play tomorrow and see what happens."
The Rays lost their second straight following a seven-game winning streak. There's still a chance of a two- or three-way tie, which would necessitate one or more tiebreaker games. Maddon isn't fretting over numerous possible outcomes.
"The only scenario is whatever helps us win tomorrow," Maddon said. "That's the only scenario that matters. And then, you just react to everything else."
Adam Lind had two hits and three RBIs, and Brett Lawrie reached base four times as the Blue Jays continued to make life tough for the Rays, who start left-hander Matt Moore (16-4) on Sunday against Blue Jays rookie right-hander Todd Redmond (4-2).
"I'm totally confident in our guys," Maddon said. "I really believe that you're going to see the best side of Matt Moore tomorrow."
Moore is 2-0 with a 2.45 ERA in two starts against Toronto this season and has lost just once to the Blue Jays in six career meetings.
"It's a big game, big opportunity," Moore said. "I'm looking to throw up zeros any way I can."
Redmond was born in St. Petersburg, where his parents once were Rays season ticket holders.
"We have a chance to knock them out," Redmond said. "That's baseball. Hopefully we can pull it off."
Maddon insisted his bullpen is in good shape even after Saturday's starter, Chris Archer, lasted just 2 1-3 innings. The right-hander, who allowed one run and five hits, is 1-2 with a 4.78 ERA in his last six starts.
Happ (5-7) pitched a season-high 7 1-3 innings, allowing one run and five hits to win for the first time since Sept. 7 at Minnesota.
"It feels really good," Happ said. "I've been working and battling and feeling like I was close. I feel like finally the last several starts I've kind of been putting it together. It feels good to end on a good note."
Tampa Bay opened the scoring for the second straight game when Ben Zobrist hit a leadoff double in the first and scored when Wil Myers singled off the glove of Lawrie at third.
Lind's RBI single tied it in the third as the Blue Jays started the inning with three straight singles off Archer, who left after striking out Sierra. Alex Torres (4-2) came on and stranded runners at second and third.
Lind made it 3-1 with a two-out, two-run single down the third base line off Torres in the fourth, and the Blue Jays pulled away with a four-run fifth.
Aaron Loup came on after pinch-hitter Tim Beckham singled in the eighth and needed just five pitches to finish the inning.
NOTES: The Rays lost consecutive games for the first time since Sept. 10-11 against Boston. ... Lawrie went 2 for 3 and walked twice. ... Lind returned to the lineup at DH after missing two games with a sore back. He was replaced by pinch-hitter Munenori Kawasaki in the fifth. ... Rays SS Yunel Escobar (left ankle) started for the first time since Tuesday. ... Blue Jays assistant GM Jay Sartori is leaving the team next month for a job with Apple Inc.