TORONTO — Manager Joe Maddon went out to the mound in the seventh inning, the situation tense as the Blue Jays had just closed to within 7-4 with the bases loaded and one out, and he told the gathered Rays that he was leaving.
Frustrated with umpire Paul Schrieber's strike zone, Maddon, in a tactic he has used before, went out ostensibly to talk to reliever Joel Peralta but instead used the forum to air his complaints about the calls.
"I had enough," Maddon said. "I walked out there and I told Joel and I told the infielders, I said, 'Listen, that's it. I'm out of this game, I know you guys are going to be fine. I'm going to watch the rest of this game with a glass of wine in my hand, and we're going to win it.' "
Schrieber obliged him, rather quickly, actually. And then the Rays did too, eventually.
Maddon said it was tough to watch the drama unfold on TV while he paced the clubhouse. "It was not easy. I had different spots I was stopping in to get outs," he said. "One of them was the urinal. So, actually, it worked really well."
The wine, by the way? A Silverado Vineyards cabernet sauvignon, vintage 2008 — the year the Rays went to the World Series.
MORE MOORE: LHP Matt Moore earned his 17th win, third most for a Rays pitcher in a season, but it wasn't all pretty. He walked three of the first four batters and gave up hits to the last four while retiring 14 of 16 in between.
"When he was walking guys he was okay and then he was giving up hits when he wasn't," Maddon said. "It's almost like he needs to be effectively wild to not give up runs."
DOUBLED UP: SS Yunel Escobar made the play of the game to get the Rays out of the seventh-inning bases-loaded jam, snagging Adam Lind's grounder, racing a long way to second then acrobatically relaying to first, where James Loney made a diving scoop to complete the double play.
"It was just a reaction play," Escobar said, with LHP Cesar Ramos translating. "I got it and saw (2B Ben Zobrist) was too far and I just sprinted to second and then Loney helped me out."
CRUZ CONTROL: DH/OF Nelson Cruz, who hits the Rays and LHP David Price well, is expected to rejoin the Rangers today after serving his supposedly season-ending PED-related suspension. "Nothing I can do about it, that's the rule," Maddon said. "Whatever the rule is that's what we abide by. I'm not going to cry about it." More details, 5C.
MEDICAL MATTERS: CF Desmond Jennings said his strained left hamstring is feeling better, but he is not yet able to run enough to play the field, limiting him to pinch-hit duties tonight. … RHP Jesse Crain (shoulder) was still not able to pitch by Sunday's regular-season finale, and Maddon said they would have an announcement on his status by today.
REGULAR GUYS: The tiebreaker is considered to be part of the regular season — Game 163 — so the stats count toward season totals. Also, teams can still use their expanded rosters.
MISCELLANY: RHP Alex Cobb was on emergency call in the bullpen, so he waited until after the game to throw his bullpen session and is set to start Wednesday's wild-card game if they advance. …OF Sam Fuld got a Saturday morning surprise, a call that his wife, Sarah, went into labor early and delivered their third child, a son, William. … The six-run first was the Rays' biggest first inning in more than two years, since Sept. 10, 2010, at Toronto. It also was just the third time this season they batted around in the first inning, first since May 8 (at home vs. Toronto).