MLB Baseball

Final 1 2 3   4 5 6   7 8 9   R H E
Tampa Bay0 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 0 130
Toronto3 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 x 480
  W: T. Thornton (6-9)   L: R. Yarbrough (11-6)   S: K. Giles (23)
12:07 PM PT1:07 PM MT2:07 PM CT3:07 PM ET15:07 ET19:07 GMT3:07 12:07 PM MST2:07 PM EST2:37 PM VEN23:07 UAE2:07 PM CT, September 28, 2019
Rogers Centre, Toronto, Ontario  Attendance: 20,293

Rays take on Blue Jays after clinching AL wild-card spot

The Tampa Bay Rays enter their game against the host Toronto Blue Jays Saturday afternoon knowing that they will be playing in the American League wild-card game against the Oakland Athletics.

The Rays clinched their first postseason berth since 2013, and the fifth in franchise history, when they defeated the Blue Jays 6-2 on Friday in the opener of a three-game series that ends the regular-season schedule for both teams.

The Rays (96-64) have a 13-4 advantage in the season series with the Blue Jays (65-95). They have won the season series against the Blue Jays four times in the past five seasons and 10 times in 12 seasons.

"We said at the beginning of the season, Oakland, Boston, New York, Cleveland, one other club, were we good enough, you're (darn) right we are," Rays manager Kevin Cash told the players in a champagne-soaked clubhouse.

"We're very proud of what we've done," Rays center fielder Kevin Kiermaier, the only Rays player left from the 2013 team, said before the game Friday.

"With facing some adversity, key players getting hurt, and guys stepping up and doing their jobs to allow us to be in this position heading into the last weekend of the season. It's amazing. You have to tip your hat to (what) the front office did with all the talent that we've acquired many different ways, and you've got homegrown guys who came up and did a great job."

"Everything we've been through, the injuries, all the adversity we had, we grinded through it all to get here, but this is a small step in the right direction," said Rays outfielder Tommy Pham, who hit a two-run homer Friday. "Oakland is a tough team and we have to get through them first."

"That tells you that pitching and defense wins games," said Blue Jays manager Charlie Montoyo, who was a coach with the Rays until the end of last season. "And they have pitching and defense. They are in every game."

Montoyo said his players were thinking that one day it will be them as they watched the Rays celebrate on the field after the final out. The Cleveland Indians lost 8-2 to the Washington Nationals on Friday, so the Rays only had to win their game to be playoff bound.

Right-hander Trent Thornton (5-9, 5.00 ERA) will get the start for Toronto, the 29th of his career, while Tampa will send out left-hander Ryan Yarbrough (11-5, 4.08 ERA).

Yarbrough has not started against the Blue Jays this season, but is 3-0 with a 1.15 ERA in four appearances, and he is 6-0 with a 1.99 ERA in eight career games, with one start, against Toronto.

Thornton has faced the Rays four times in his career, all this season, and he has an 8.44 ERA over 16 innings.

If the Blue Jays are to emulate the Rays, both their pitching and defense must improve over what they have shown this season.

"I like the core that we've got," Montoyo said this week. "But like anywhere, our defense and pitching has to get better. When that happens, we're going to win more games. That goes for any level, but even more so at this level. You see the teams that are ahead, winning, they all have pitching and defense."

The Rays are 48-31 on the road this season, second best in the majors, behind the Minnesota Twins, who are 54-25 away from home.

--Field Level Media

Updated September 28, 2019

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