Rays come up short against Blue Jays, will end up playing Wild Card game in Oakland

TORONTO (AP) — The Tampa Bay Rays are definitely going to the AL Wild Card Game.

It sure looks like they are headed west, too.

Tampa Bay managed just three hits and lost 4-1 to the Toronto Blue Jays on Saturday, damaging the Rays’ chances of hosting Oakland in next week’s wild-card showdown.

“It’s going to be challenging,” Rays manager Kevin Cash said. “We’re going to need Oakland to play like they haven’t here for a while.”

Matt Duffy homered in the seventh inning, but that was it for Tampa Bay. Duffy finished with two hits and Tommy Pham singled for the team’s other hit.

The Rays (96-65) partied Friday night after clinching a postseason berth when they beat Toronto and Washington beat Cleveland. Still, Cash said he had no issue with his team’s energy and intensity Saturday.

“We’re going to have some quiet days,” Cash said. “That’s where you credit Toronto’s pitchers, how they mixed and matched.”

The Rays began the day tied with Oakland in the wild-card race. The Athletics won four of seven regular-season meetings with the Rays, giving them the head-to-head tiebreaker.

Oakland visited Seattle on Saturday night. Tampa Bay could still host the wild-card game if the Athletics lose their final two and the Rays beat the Blue Jays on Sunday.

“We’re a confident team regardless of where we are,” Duffy said.

The Rays are 48-32 on the road with one game remaining.

Teoscar Hernandez hit his 25th homer for Toronto, and Trent Thornton (6-9) pitched five effective innings. Rowdy Tellez had two hits and drove in a run.

The Blue Jays jumped on Ryan Yarbrough (11-6) for three runs before he recorded his first out of the game.

Hernandez connected for his second career leadoff homer. Cavan Biggio then singled and scored on Randal Grichuk‘s triple. Tellez added an RBI single.

“The first inning it seemed like just a lot of pitches found the center of the plate,” Cash said.

Yarbrough allowed three runs and five hits in five innings.

“I feel like I kind of cleaned it up a little bit as the game went along,” Yarbrough said.

Thornton settled down nicely after a shaky first. The right-hander allowed one hit, struck out eight and walked four.

“Thornton set the tone after the first inning,” Cash said. “I mean, they had a guy up and we didn’t capitalize. That’s kind of our chance right there.”

Thornton’s 149 strikeouts are the most for a Blue Jays rookie since Mark Eichhorn had 166 in 1986.

“He’s really pitched well in his last nine starts for sure, and a great job again today,” manager Charlie Montoyo said.

Ken Giles worked the ninth for his 23rd save in 24 opportunities.

After Duffy hit his first homer of the season off Sam Gaviglio, Richard Ureña restored Toronto’s three-run cushion with an RBI double in the bottom half of the inning.

DUFFY DELIVERS

Duffy had gone 427 at-bats since his previous home run, the longest active streak in the majors and one he had been reminded of frequently by opposing videoboards.

“They put that on the scoreboard here every time we play,” Duffy said. “I’ve been trying to get that off there for a while.”

Duffy’s last homer was on June 16, 2018, at Yankee Stadium. He missed 103 games this season because of a left hamstring injury.

ROOF REPORT

The retractable roof opened a few minutes before the game started, but rolled closed again after a light rain began falling in the first inning.

GET ON WITH IT

Biggio has reached safely in 28 consecutive games, breaking the Blue Jays rookie record (Russ Adams, 27 games, 2005).

TRAINER’S ROOM

Rays: INF Yandy Díaz (left foot) got six at-bats in an instructional league game Saturday and will join the team in Toronto on Sunday. Díaz has been out since July 23 and is on the 60-day IL.

Blue Jays: 3B Vladimir Guerrero Jr. (right knee) was scratched from the starting lineup and replaced by Brandon Drury. Montoyo said Guerrero hurt himself rounding second base Friday. Guerrero is day to day. … SS Bo Bichette (concussion) has been ruled out for the remainder of the season. Bichette was hit on the batting helmet by a pitch at Baltimore last Thursday.

UP NEXT

Rays: LHP Blake Snell (6-7, 4.21) starts Sunday in his third appearance since returning from elbow surgery.

Blue Jays: RHP Clay Buchholz (5-9, 5.00 ERA) is 9-9 with a 2.69 ERA in 25 career games against the Rays.