ST. PETERSBURG — If the Rays want to finish the season with 90 wins, they are not making it easy on themselves.
They have left zero margin for error.
Despite leading the Blue Jays early in Friday's game, Tampa Bay could not hold them off late. Randal Grichuk hit a seventh-inning, three-run triple to propel the Blue Jays to a 7-6 win at the Trop.
Tampa Bay fell to 88-72 with two games left against Toronto in its last series of the season.
"We just didn't perform well tonight," Rays manager Kevin Cash said. "That kind of carried in from yesterday to today."
The overall performance might have carried over, but INF Joey Wendle did his best to start the game against the Rays the best he could.
After winning the Rays' outstanding rookie award in the afternoon, Wendle doubled to the warning track in the first inning to score the first run, sparking a 3-0 lead.
The Blue Jays responded, though, and the Rays led only 5-4 heading into the seventh.
Solo home runs helped the Blue Jays. Teoscar Hernandez hit one in the second and Rowdy Tellez in the sixth. It was Tellez's fourth homer of the season, all but one have come against the Rays.
RHP Tyler Glasnow gave up both. He exited the game in the sixth, giving up seven hits and three earned runs while striking out nine. "The last two innings, I wasn't able to locate as well," he said.
C Adam Moore brought the Rays within one after a solo homer in the eighth, but two of the next four batters struck out.
LF Tommy Pham extended his on-base streak to 30, the longest active streak in the majors.
Reaching 90 wins is still possible, but Cash did not want to discuss that postgame. He wanted 91 wins.
"But we want to win out," Cash said. "There's no doubt. This club has done a lot of good things. 90, for me personally, is not a benchmark.
"90 is not a benchmark for the success that these young guys have come up here and contributed to help us win a lot of games."
Minor-league award winners
1B Nate Lowe would prefer to hit and catch baseballs in front of a crowd, not speak. But if giving a speech is part of accepting an award, he said he can make it work.
Such was the case when he gave an impromptu acceptance speech after the Rays announced Lowe as their minor-league player of the year at the Clutch Hitters luncheon.
Lowe finished .330/.416/.568 at the plate this season playing for Class A Charlotte, Double-A Montgomery and Triple-A Durham. In 130 games, he hit 27 home runs and had 102 RBIs. Lowe was named the Florida State League player of the month in April and May.
"It is a real honor, especially in an organization that had so much success with all the teams," Lowe said of his player of the year prize. "Getting picked as a single player out of a bunch of guys who had great seasons is really awesome."
LHP Brock Burke was named the organization's minor-league pitcher of the year after going 9-6 with a 3.08 ERA in 25 appearances and 22 starts between Charlotte and Montgomery.
Burke said it meant a lot to him because he remembers sitting and watching Blake Snell win the award during Burke's first year in the system.
"It is just crazy how things can flip-flop in three years," Burke said.
Other minor-league award winners: INF Vidal Brujan (baserunner of the year), Colin Poche (reliever of the year) and SS Taylor Walls (defensive player of the year)
OF Carl Chester won the Erik Walker Community Champion award, given to a Rays minor-leaguer who exemplifies teamwork, sportsmanship and community involvement. The Rays Baseball Foundation will donate $2,500 to a charity of Chester's choice.
In hindsight …
The end to the last Yankees-Rays series of the year finished in chippy fashion. Yankees LHP CC Sabathia hit C Jesus Sucre in the sixth inning Thursday, prompting home-plate umpire Vic Carapazza to eject Sabathia and Yankees manager Aaron Boone. That came after Sabathia hit 1B Jake Bauers in the fifth inning and Rays RHP Andrew Kittredge nearly hit C Austin Romine in the top of the sixth. Both teams received a warning after Kittredge's high and tight pitch.
Hindsight did not offer Cash much additional perspective on the event.
"Look, it happened, you move past it," Cash said. "And ultimately, it was teammates protecting each other, protecting their own. You want to see that from your guys, and I am sure the other team wants to see it from whoever is on their mound. I am glad that nobody got hurt. I can tell you that. It was probably a good time for us to send off the Yankees and not play them for a while."