Rays hang on - barely - to beat Jays 7-6, will play again
One more game.
The Rays extended their season at season for at least another day by hanging on to beat the Blue Jays 7-6 on Sunday.
At the least, the Rays will play one tiebreaker game today, in either Texas or Cleveland, pending their later games.
If both win, the Rays will play at the Rangers Monday at 8:07 to be the second wild behind the Indians. If both lose, the Rays and Indians tie, the Rays hold the tiebreaker and are the top wild card and host the Indians on Wednesday at the Trop. If the Indians win and and Rangers lose, the Rays are the second wild card and play at Cleveland on Wednesday.
That was the easy part.
If the Rangers win and Indians lose, there is a three-way tie, and thus the first three-team tiebreaker in major-league history, with the Rays playing at the Indians Monday at 4:07, with the winner one of the wild-cards and the loser playing at the Rangers on Tuesday to determine the other wild-card.
After losing the first two games to the Jays, the Rays spoke a lot about needing to get back on their game, especially offensively, and they did so scoring six in the first and taking a 7-0 lead into the sixth. But first starter Matt Moore and then the bullpen faltered, and the Jays got to within 7-6 in the eighth with the bases loaded before Fernando Rodney struck out Moises Sierra.
Rodney then allowed a leadoff single but got them through the ninth.
There was some excitement in the seventh. First, Rays manager Joe Maddon went to the mound ostensibly to talk "to" reliever Joel Peralta after he loaded the bases, but in a common tactic uses that forum to indirectly complain about ball-and-strike calls. Home plate umpire Paul Schrieber walked up and obviously heard enough, quickly tossing Maddon, who argued vehemently for several minutes before walking off the field.
If the idea was to fire up his team, it worked. Peralta threw a good pitch that Lind grounded up the middle and SS Yunel Escobar, booed in each at-bat by the Roger Centre fans, made a dazzling play, scooping in on the run, racing to second for the force out then throwing almost sidearm to first, where James Loney - somehow - made a diving scoop to complete the inning ending double play.
But the Jays rallied again in the eighth, scoring two more as Peralta had more trouble and Rodney had to be summoned. It peaked when the Jays loaded the bases again, but Rodney escaped.
With St. Petersburg native Todd Redmond on the mound for Toronto on Sunday, they quickly turned talk into action, scoring six runs in the first inning and sending nine men to the plate. It was their biggest first inning in more than two years (since Sept. 10, 2010 at Toronto) and just the third time this season they batted around in the first inning, first since May 8 (at home vs. Toronto).
Rookie Wil Myers got them started with a one-out double, James Loney followed with an RBI single and Evan Longoria doubled him home for a 2-0 lead. With two outs and a full-count, Delmon Young singled up the middle to score Longoria. Matt Joyce drew a walk which ended the day for Redmond, the product of Northside Christian and St. Petersburg College who said Saturday he was hoping to beat the Rays and send them home.
Jose Lobaton greeted reliever Neil Wagner with a double to deep center that scored two, and then Yunel Escobar, still being booed by the Rogers Centre crowd, singled in Lobaton to make it 6-0.
Rays starter Matt Moore didn't handle the comfortable margin well initially, walking three of the first four Jays batters, helped by Loney starting a nifty double play. But a visit from pitching coach Jim Hickey once again did the trick, as Moore settled down and settled in, retiring six in a row and 14 of the next 16.
Moore ran into trouble quickly in the sixth, allowing four straight hits, which led to three Toronto runs, and was replaced by Jake McGee. Brett Lawrie and Moises Sierra singled, then Mark DeRosa doubled off the left-centerfield wall to score them both. Ryan Langerhans followed with a single, ending Moore's day after 93 pitches. McGee allowed a sac fly to J.P. Arencibia that made it 7-3, then got them out of the inning.