Make us your home page

Get the quickest, smartest news, analysis and photos from the Bucs game emailed to you shortly after the final whistle.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Rays extend season with win over Blue Jays


It seemed only proper that these do-nothing-easy Rays would take their pursuit of the playoffs down to the last day — and now an extra day — of the season, only fitting they would turn what looked for most of Sunday to be an easy victory into a harrowing 7-6 survival.

And now it seems only appropriate that they are headed to Texas having to beat the Rangers — those Rangers — in tonight's tiebreaker just to get to Wednesday's American League wild-card game.

"It just seems like if there was a road that we had to travel down, this would be the one," third baseman Evan Longoria said. "I think Texas, although we'd love to be at home and in the playoffs, it might be where we need to be. It might be something that we need to prove to ourselves in order to get to the next step."

The Rays' past two trips to the playoffs ended with first-round losses to the Rangers, and the sting of the early ousters remains.

"Texas has been a team that has played us extremely tough, and they've hit me extremely well," said lefty David Price, who will start tonight against Texas rookie Martin Perez. "It would definitely make it a little bit more sweeter for us to do it against those guys."

The Rays and Rangers play tonight because both won Sunday, finishing 91-71, one game behind the top wild card Indians, and forcing the majors' first tiebreaking game since 2009 and the 14th overall. The Rays blew a 7-0 lead, then hung on against the last-place Blue Jays after losing the first two games of the series. The Rangers completed a four-game sweep of the Angels with a 6-2 win that was their seventh straight overall.

The game is in Texas because the Rangers won the season series with the Rays 4-3, splitting a four-game series at Tropicana Field this month. Tonight's winner heads to Cleveland for another one-and-potentially-done affair, and the Rays are just happy for the opportunity.

"It's wonderful to be playing another day based on what had happened over the last couple of days, so I'm happy with that," manager Joe Maddon said. "We just got done playing Texas. It seems we do this on an annual basis. We know how good they are."

The game the Rays won Sunday to get there was challenging enough.

They couldn't have started better, scoring six runs in the first inning and chasing St. Petersburg native Todd Redmond, rookie Wil Myers getting them started and Jose Lobaton delivering the biggest hit, a two-run double. They expanded the lead to 7-0 with Matt Moore settling in after a three-walk first, and it seemed their only anxiety of the afternoon would be in watching the end of the Indians and Rangers games in the clubhouse to know where their plane was headed.

But Moore lost it quickly in the sixth, allowing four straight hits that led to three runs, and it got worse from there. Reliever Jake McGee faltered, then — after Maddon theatrically got kicked out and shortstop Yunel Escobar turned a dazzling double play — Joel Peralta faltered, and closer Fernando Rodney, pitching for the first time in a week, did, too, as the Jays got the go-ahead run to the plate in the seventh and again in the eighth. Then Rodney allowed a leadoff single in the ninth but retired the next three, and the Rays could finally exhale.

"Unbelievable game," Lobaton said. "Being up by seven, now 7-6 in the last inning. A little nervous."

Moore talked about the excitement, how "all the high blood pressure, you can feel your heart pumping through your shirt, it was worth it."

Maddon — who admitted he thought awkwardly back to Game 162 in 2011 when the Rays overcame a 7-0 deficit to beat the Yankees and gain a playoff spot — said he thinks it could actually have a relaxing effect on a team that looked tight.

"I really believe after a moment like that, just let the air out," he said. "Stop worrying about stuff. … I know we're not in the playoffs yet, but the fact that we've gotten to this point, let's just let the air out and let's just go play."

Even better, at Texas.

What did you expect?

Sunday's scare against Toronto and tonight's win-or-go-home Game 163 against Texas are par for the course for this Rays team, Gary Shelton writes. 1A


The Rangers have roughed up David Price like no other team in baseball, but the Rays ace is confident he'll make amends in tonight's start. 3C

Last word

Fed up with the home plate umpire, Joe Maddon gets himself ejected and perhaps inspires his team in the process. 4C

And in Texas …

Tonight: Game 163

Rays at Rangers, 8:07, Rangers Ballpark, Arlington, Texas TV/radio: TBS; 620-AM

At stake: Winner plays the Indians in Wednesday's AL wild-card game.

Pitchers: Rays — LH David Price (9-8, 3.39 ERA); Rangers — LH Martin Perez (10-5, 3.55 ERA)

AL wild card

Rays or Rangers at Indians, 8:07 Wednesday, Progressive Field, Cleveland. TV: TBS

NL wild card

Reds at Pirates, 8:07 Tuesday, PNC Park, Pittsburgh. TV: TBS

Rays extend season with win over Blue Jays 09/29/13 [Last modified: Monday, September 30, 2013 7:37am]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Tampa Bay Super Bowls: A brief history and some predictions for 2021


    At last, Tampa will host a Super Bowl again. It used to be that the Cigar City would host one a decade, but by the time February 2021 rolls around, it will have been 12 years since the epic showdown between the Steelers and Cardinals. Because it has been awhile, let's revisit those past Super Bowls while also peering …

    Santonio Holmes hauls in the game-winning touchdown in the Steelers' 27-23 Super Bowl XLIII victory over the Cardinals in 2009, the last time Tampa hosted a Super Bowl. [JAMES BORCHUCK | Times]
  2. Rays bats go silent in second straight loss to Angels (w/video)

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — Sure, Alex Cobb was to blame for the Rays' 4-0 loss on Tuesday.

    Derek Norris strikes out with the bases loaded as the Rays blow a golden opportunity in the seventh inning.
  3. Marc Topkin's takeaways from Tuesday's Rays-Angels game

    The Heater

    RHP Alex Cobb made mistakes on back-to-back pitches to the first two Angels hitters Tuesday, allowing homers to Cameron Maybin and Mike Trout, but otherwise gave the Rays another solid outing, working into the eighth and scattering seven hits.

  4. Rays journal: Brad Miller won't return from DL when eligible

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — 2B Brad Miller (left abdominal strain) will not return from the 10-day disabled list Friday as he hoped. While he took ground balls Tuesday, he has yet to resume running.

    Rays second baseman Brad Miller, left, with infielder Tim Beckham, says he’s letting his left abdominal strain “cool down” before testing it by running.
  5. USF baseball rallies to beat Tulane in AAC tournament opener


    CLEARWATER — With Tulane runners on first and second and two out in the top of the ninth inning Tuesday, USF's dugout watched as burly American Athletic Conference co-player of the year Hunter Williams' fly to left went deep.

    USF outfielder Chris Chatfield is congratulated by third-base coach Chris Cates after hitting a three-run homer in the third inning, tying the score at 3.