If there was any doubt whether the Blue Jays had in fact already clinched a playoff spot before Saturday’s game – Jose Bautista, for one, wasn’t yet ready to believe it – the Jays did their best to stamp it out early on Saturday.
When the Blue Jays pulled the trigger on their trade for Troy Tulowitzki, they had played 100 games and won half of them.
(Frank Gunn/The Canadian Press via AP).
TORONTO (AP) – It was supposed to be a small toast, an acknowledgement that they had secured a wild-card berth.
Instead, the Toronto Blue Jays washed away 22 years of frustration in a deluge of champagne and beer in a raucous celebration.
“(Edwin Encarnacion) wanted to go for it, so we did”, pitcher R.A. Dickey said, music blaring in the background and cigar smoke wafting around him in a joyous clubhouse.
But, right now, thanks to a 5-3 win against Tampa Bay on Friday – and a convoluted tie-breaker system – the Jays have a guaranteed one-game wild card playoff spot.
“K.C. has a great offence, an athletic team that can run and pose all kinds of problems”, said Tampa Bay’s first base coach Rocco Baldelli. The veteran left-hander has a 5.65 ERA with opponents batting.390 against him in three starts this month with the Blue Jays losing each. “But we expect to have another one of these when we win the division”.
“We haven’t lost track of our goals”, he added. “The Blue Jays are heading to the postseason”. Those were bold moves for Anthopoulos, and they set the baseball literati chattering about a World Series championship. “Well, I shouldn’t say I hope so”. “It’s been so long and the guys have played great. If you think this is insane, wait until we clinch the division”, Kevin Pillar told MLB.com’s Jaime Ross.
Bautista homered into the second deck off Kirby Yates to begin the seventh for his 37th. It was the fifth multihomer game of the season for Bautista, whose homers were his 38th and 39th. Price has 81 strikeouts and just 17 walks in 69 1/3 innings and a 1.95 earned-run average.
Back-to-back Toronto doubles in the second cut the Tampa lead to 2-1 with Cliff Pennington’s RBI double just eluding a diving Grady Sizemore in left field.
Short it was for the starters, with Oakland’s Zito throwing two innings and outlasting Hudson’s 1 1/3 for the Giants, 11 years after they last pitched together in Oakland. I turned off the vehicle, made some frozen pizza for lunch, and committed to following the rest of the game on Gameday. Despite the hard outing, Price maintained his AL ERA lead at 2.45.
Here’s why: The Blue Jays, with 88 wins entering Saturday, can lose no more than 74 games.
Three batters later, Martin made it 5-0 with a two-run shot, his career-best 22nd. But Toronto’s league-leading offence was the difference, backing their ace to a 10-8 victory over his first team. Bautista won the August 7 game with a 10th-inning home run. He also matched a season high by walking five, the second straight start he’s walked that many. Tampa squeezed out three more runs in the ninth off an assortment of Toronto relievers before Osuna nailed down his 19th save.
While running on the warning track before the game, Price and Archer shared a warm embrace in center.
Rays: Longoria started at DH, with Richie Shaffer at 3B….
LHP Jake McGee (torn meniscus left knee) is scheduled to be activated from the 15-day disabled list on Saturday.
Rays: RHP Matt Andriese (3-5, 4.37 ERA) makes his first big league start since July 7.
Blue Jays fans fell in love with John McDonald, Reed Johnson and Shawn Green, saw two Alex Gonzalezes come through town and imagined a rotation anchored by The Big Three of Halladay, Chris Carpenter and Kelvim Escobar.