TORONTO — Yandy Diaz was ready to take a swing at history if necessary Sunday.
But with Texas’ Corey Seager going 0-for-4 and dropping to .327, Diaz’s .330 average was enough to win the American League batting title, the first by a Rays player in their 26 seasons.
“I’m very happy,” Diaz said via team interpreter Manny Navarro. “Everyone knows all the hard work it takes to do something like that, so thank God I was able to win that title.”
The Rays on Sunday opted to rest Diaz, who is still feeling a little bit of tightness in his right hamstring, though he started the day trailing Seager .32952 to .32980. But Diaz was ready to pinch hit depending on how Seager did.
Diaz, who claimed over recent weeks he wasn’t keeping tabs on the race or even knew what he was hitting, said he wasn’t that concerned.
“I wasn’t even really paying attention to it,” he said. “But the hitting coach (Chad Mottola) kept passing by me, and he kept updating me on what was going on in that game.”
Diaz’s bosses and teammates raved about the accomplishment.
“It’s an amazing feat,” manager Kevin Cash said.
Josh Lowe called it a “super cool” accomplishment.
“Couldn’t happen to a more deserving person,” he said. “I probably told him 15 times already how proud of him I am and how cool it was to watch him do it this year. Just to put on a show for all of us and be right there behind him, watching him do it, was awesome.”
Diaz’s .330 was also the highest average in Rays history; Jason Bartlett hit .320 in 2009, tying for sixth in the AL.
Diaz said he appreciated being the first Ray to win a batting title.
“I’m very happy and grateful for this organization, with just the opportunity to become a better baseball player and better person here,” he said. “And of course, it means so much to be able to be the first Rays player in history to do it.”
The Rays notched two other notable achievements Sunday, setting franchise records for runs in a season with 860, surpassing their 857 in 2021; and for home runs with 230, surpassing their 228 in 2017.
Also Sunday, Jonathan Aranda had a career-high six RBIs, including his first grand slam; and 20-year-old top prospect Junior Caminero hit his first homer. Caminero, at 20 years and 88 days, was the second-youngest Ray to homer, behind BJ Upton (19, 362). Two other Rays homered at 20: Delmon Young and Wander Franco.
One personal achievement not reached was Isaac Paredes falling short of the 100-RBI mark. He finished with 98 to go with his 31 homers.
Cash said outfielder Jose Siri (fractured right hand) and outfielder/DH Luke Raley (cervical strain) continue to progress in hopes of being included on the 26-man roster due Tuesday morning. The key will be how they look in Monday’s workout, including a live batting practice session against Triple-A relievers Javy Guerra and Manuel Rodriguez.
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“Both had good days,” Cash said before Sunday’s game. “I saw some video of Raley swinging in the cage and some video of Siri throwing, so they’re progressing really, really well. Still, Monday will be a big day.”
Cash said reliever Jason Adam (oblique strain) definitely will not be ready.
The 3:08 start times are the earliest of the four games on all three days of Wild Card Series play. ... As part of their contingency prep, the Rays had Caminero flip to second base for a few innings Sunday and Curtis Mead to shortstop. ... Manuel Margot hit his first homer since June 15. ... Cash expressed his condolences over the passing of former Red Sox teammate Tim Wakefield. ... A small group of Triple-A players will work out at the Sarasota complex to stay ready if needed.
Rays-Rangers by the numbers
Records: Rays 99-63, Rangers 90-72
Season series: Rangers win 4-2, Rays 2-1 at Trop
American League ranks
Runs: Rangers 881 (1st), Rays 860 (2nd)
Home runs: Rangers, 233 (T-1st), Rays, 230 (4th)
Batting average: Rangers .263 (1st), .260 (2nd)
OPS: Rangers .789 (1st), Rays .776 (2nd)
ERA: Rays 3.86 (3rd), Rangers 4.28 (10th)
Top hitters: Rays: Yandy Diaz .330; Isaac Paredes 31 homers, 98 RBIs. Rangers: Corey Seager .327; Adolis Garcia 39 homers, 107 RBIs
Top starters: Rays: Zach Eflin 16-8, 3.50; Tyler Glasnow 10-7, 3.53. Rangers: Nate Eovaldi, 12-5, 3.63, Dane Dunning, 12-7, 3.70
Top relievers: Rays: Pete Fairbanks 2-4, 2.58, 25 saves. Rangers Will Smith, 2-7, 4.40, 22 saves
Postseason history: Rangers won 2010 and 2011 ALDS
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