The stage is set as the Tampa Bay Rays will head to Texas for a one-game tiebreaker on Monday night against the Texas Rangers to determine the final berth in Wednesday’s American League Wild Card game against the Cleveland Indians.
Cleveland (92-70) beat Minnesota, 5-1, to clinch the top AL Wild Card spot and home-field in the AL Wild Card Game, while the Texas Rangers (91-71) were 6-2 winners over the Los Angeles Angels to set up the tiebreaker game.
For the Rays (91-71), they needed to win Game 162 to assure them for at least a tie for the AL Wild Card and they did just that by holding onto a 7-6 lead for the win over the Toronto Blue Jays on Sunday afternoon in a wild finish that almost slipped away.
The Rays bolted out of the gate in the bottom of the first inning scoring six-runs as they batted around for the first time since May 8, also against the Blue Jays.
Singles from James Loney, Delmon Young and Yunel Escobar plus a double from Jose Lobaton gave starter and winner Matt Moore (17-4) a nice cushion in a game that seemed to be headed to a blowout. The Rays extended their lead to 7-0 in the fourth, when Wil Myers doubled off the wall in left to drive home Escobar.
Game 162 drama is nothing new to the Rays and getting things done the easy way doesn’t always come easy for the Rays as the Blue Jays rallied back scoring six runs in the final four innings.
Moore did get into some trouble in the bottom of the first walking three, but escaped without any damage thanks to a double play and strikeout that ended the inning. Although he posted five scoreless innings Moore began to unravel following a two-run double Mark DeRosa with one out.
Following a single to Ryan Langerhans, Rays manager Joe Maddon decided Moore’s day would come to an end and called for Jake McGee to take over. McGee’s first batter, J.P. Arenciba greeted him with a sacrifice fly to cut the Rays lead to 7-3.
McGee would give up a run scoring double to Brett Lawrie in the seventh, prompting Maddon to make another move by bringing in Joel Peralta.
Peralta would walk Moises Sierra to load the bases setting up a return trip to the mound by Maddon and an ejection for questioning home-plate umpire Paul Schrieber’s strike zone before getting pinch-hitter Adam Lind to ground into an inning-ending double play.
The Jays would add two more runs in the eighth against Fernando Rodney before striking out Sierra to end the inning. Rodney would return for the ninth to close the game out earning his 37th save.
David Price (9-8, 3.39 ERA) will start the game for the Rays and Martin Perez (10-5, 3.55) takes the hill for the Rangers.
The winner of this game will then face the Cleveland Indians on Wednesday night in another winner-take-all bout to determine Boston’s opponent.
The game will be televised by TBS beginning at 8:00 p.m.
The Rangers will activate Nelson Cruz on the 40-man roster Monday in their tiebreaker game against the Rays, said GM Jon Daniels.
Cruz completed his 50-game suspension for violation Major League Baseball’s Basic Agreement and its Joint Drug Prevention and Treatment program. It’s unknown if Cruz will be in the lineup
For more info: Tampa Bay Rays, Texas Rangers
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