BOSTON — The Rays got the result they seemingly wanted, heading to Cleveland for the best-of-three Wild Card Series that opens Friday.
That became official Tuesday night as the Rays lost a rain-shortened game to the Red Sox, 6-0, and the Mariners scored a 7-6 walkoff 10-inning win over the Tigers.
That locked the Mariners (88-72, pending their second game Tuesday) into the second spot in the three-team American League wild-card field and a trip to Toronto, and the Rays (86-72) into third heading into the final day of the regular season.
“There’s more stuff that’s defined (now),” Rays manager Kevin Cash said. “(We) know that we’re going to play a very good Cleveland team.”
While Tuesday’s five-inning loss was the Rays’ season high-matching fourth straight, they were more down over the loss of lefty reliever Colin Poche, who strained his right oblique during the fifth inning and is done for the year.
“He’s crushed. We’re all crushed for him,” Cash said. “He’s such a big part of our bullpen. And to happen the way it happened, it’s unfortunate.”
The Rays went 2-4 this season against the Guardians, scoring just 18 runs, going 1-2 in a late-July series at Tropicana Field and again last week in Cleveland.
“It’s definitely going to be tough,” catcher Christian Bethancourt said. “They’ve got pitching. Pretty much all their nine hitters in the lineup, they can put the ball in play. They can run. They can create situations.
“We just saw them. Hopefully we can do our part and get back on track. We’ve been losing a lot of games lately, all close games. I think our offense has to wake up a little bit and I think we’ll be fine.”
The Rays have seemed to prefer to play the Guardians (91-70), avoiding the heavy-hitting Blue Jays and setting up a best-of-five division series that has the winner going on to face the Yankees. The Mariners-Blue Jays winner has to face the top-seeded Astros.
For anyone suggesting the Rays were trying to lose their way into the final wild-card spot to avoid Toronto, consider the move that Mariners manager Scott Servais made Tuesday.
When their game, the first of a doubleheader, went to the 10th inning, he put catcher Luis Torrens, who had pitched once all season, on the mound. Torrens, somehow, gave up only one run, and the Mariners came back to score two and win.
The Rays’ loss was much less dramatic. With starter Jeffrey Springs limited to three innings to have him ready for possible weekend duty, and their offense quiet with two hits for the night, they trailed 1-0 in the fifth.
As rain starting to fall heavier, Poche loaded the bases on two hits and a one-out walk, then allowed a grand slam to Xander Bogaerts. Poche threw one more pitch, then left the game injured.
Brooks Raley took over, got an out, then walked two and allowed a run on a messy sequence in deteriorating conditions.
Want more than just the box score?
Subscribe to our free Rays Report newsletter
You’re all signed up!
Want more of our free, weekly newsletters in your inbox? Let’s get started.Explore all your options
With two outs in the fifth play was halted. Wednesday’s 4:10 p.m. regular-season finale may also be in jeopardy due to a forecast for extensive rain.
The Rays were happy just to know where they are headed, as they had been preparing for both Cleveland and Toronto.
“Since we got in (to Boston) and since we knew we weren’t going home (to play), you’re looking at Toronto, you’re looking at Cleveland, you’re going back and forth and discussing too many options that I’m not smart enough to keep up with,” Cash said. “So now if we can hone in on one, maybe I can try to keep up.”
Infielder Taylor Walls said the location was more important than the opponent.
“Nobody cares who we play,” he said. “At the end of the day, we’re playing for a wild-card spot. Every team is going to be tough. ... But it is comforting knowing, ‘OK, now I know where my family can come. I know where they’re going to be.’ It just makes things easier — a little more peaceful, I guess, just knowing the certainty of where you’re going to be.”
• • •
Sign up for the Rays Report weekly newsletter to get fresh perspectives on the Tampa Bay Rays and the rest of the majors from sports columnist John Romano.