TORONTO – The playoff waiting game continued for the Toronto Blue Jays on Saturday afternoon after they dropped a 7-5 decision to the Tampa Bay Rays.
Taylor Walls hit a two-run single off Jordan Hicks in the 10th inning to silence the sellout crowd of 42,097 at Rogers Centre. Tampa Bay added another run on Junior Caminero’s infield single.
Chris Devenski (6-4) gave up an RBI double to Bo Bichette in the bottom half of the inning before getting Kevin Kiermaier on a groundout to end it.
The loss kept Toronto’s magic number at one and could make for a nervous regular-season finale on Sunday.
The Blue Jays (89-72) are still a good bet to reach the post-season.
Toronto can secure a spot later Saturday if the Texas Rangers beat the Seattle Mariners.
The Blue Jays will get another win-and-you’re-in opportunity against the Rays in the regular-season finale and other results Sunday could also fall Toronto’s way.
But the anxiety will only rise from here as Toronto looks to make its third wild-card appearance in the last four years.
Harold Ramirez homered for the Rays (98-63), who outhit Toronto 14-7.
Daulton Varsho homered and drove in three runs for the Blue Jays. Starter Hyun Jin Ryu lasted only three innings.
If the Blue Jays make the post-season, they would open the best-of-three series Tuesday at Minnesota or Tampa Bay.
The Rays, meanwhile, are in playoff tune-up mode after securing the first of three American League wild-card spots earlier in the week.
Tampa Bay gave opener Shawn Armstrong the start and six relievers made appearances on a bullpen day.
Chances are still good these teams will meet next week at Tropicana Field. The Rangers, Mariners and Houston Astros were still in the mix for AL playoff spots entering play later Saturday.
The East Division champion Baltimore Orioles have secured the top seed in the AL and the Central champion Minnesota Twins will be seeded third.
Toronto’s Kevin Gausman will likely start Sunday’s series finale.
The Rays struck first on Saturday under blue skies and bright sunshine.
Randy Arozarena just missed a home run with a one-out double in the first inning off Ryu. Isaac Paredes drove in Arozarena to open the scoring.
Ryu wasn’t particularly sharp over his three-inning appearance but he managed to avoid giving up a big frame.
Tampa Bay added another run in the third when Josh Lowe doubled to bring home Ramirez.
Varsho answered in the bottom half with a no-doubt solo shot. His 20th homer of the season landed in the 200 level just inside the right-field foul screen.
He drove in two more runs in Toronto’s three-run fourth inning.
Trevor Richards gave up a two-run homer to Ramirez in the fifth that tied the game.
The Rays threatened in the sixth with runners on the corners but Erik Swanson got Arozarena to hit into a double-play.
Yimi Garcia worked a clean seventh inning for Toronto. Jordan Romano of Markham, Ont., — normally used in a closing role — gave up a two-out double in the eighth before getting Walls on a flyout.
Hicks (3-9) also pitched the ninth inning.
Toronto’s George Springer hit a two-out double in the ninth but was stranded when Cavan Biggio lined out.
The Blue Jays have been swept in the wild-card round in two of the last three years. Toronto didn’t make the playoffs in 2021.
The Blue Jays’ last playoff victory came in 2016 when they reached the American League Championship Series for a second straight year.
Toronto won World Series titles in 1992 and 1993.
The Blue Jays will get a chance to win a season series over the Rays for the first time since 2017 with a victory on Sunday.
The teams have split their 12 head-to-head meetings so far. The Blue Jays had a 10-9 mark against the Rays six years ago.
The Rays have yet to confirm their starter for Sunday afternoon.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Sept. 30, 2023.
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