With three games remaining in the regular season, the Tampa Bay Rays are within a half game of the AL Wildcard, for now. The Rays 5-2 win over Toronto coupled with the Red Sox 6-2 loss to the Yankees makes the deficit a half game and the Red Sox have a night game left to play in Yankee Stadium. If the Yankees are able to pull off the sweep in New York, the Rays would be even, heading into the final series of the season.
The Rays jumped out to a quick lead Sunday and were able to cruise to victory over the Toronto Blue Jays. B.J. Upton got things going with a home run in the bottom of the first. After an Evan Longoria ground out, Ben Zobrist hit a drive to right that bounced off the right field wall as Jose Bautista tried to make a leaping catch. Bautista was shaken up on the play and could not retrieve the ball, allowing Zobrist to circle the bases for an inside the park home run. It was just the start the Rays were looking for. The Jays came back with a run in the second but the Rays answered with two more in the third. Kelly Shoppach added a solo shot in the sixth to provide the winning margin.
Wade Davis, who had been less than stellar in his last two outings, came through with a clutch performance today. He went eight strong innings allowing just three hits and giving up two runs. He threw 107 pitches and only 31 of them were balls. Joel Peralta came in and retired the Jays in order in the ninth to pick up his sixth save of the season.
Now, the Rays will watch the Red Sox finish up a day-night doubleheader in New York and find out where they stand heading into their series with the Yankees. The Red Sox will head to Baltimore, where they will finish with three games against the Orioles. Whatever the outcome of tonight’s game in New York the Rays know they have a tough road ahead after what happened in New York earlier in the week. They won’t be seeing the Yankees’ best pitchers, which may open things up for the offense to put up some runs and ease the pressure on the pitching staff.