Toronto, ON, Canada (4E Sports) – The Tampa Bay Rays scored six runs in the first inning and weathered a late comeback by the Toronto Blue Jays en route to a crucial 7-6 victory Sunday at Rogers Centre.
The win assured the Rays (91-71) of at least a tiebreaker against Cleveland or Texas Monday or a berth in Wednesday’s American League Wild Card Game, depending on results of the Indians and Rangers games.
Matt Moore pitched 5 1/3 strong innings, allowing three runs on six hits with three walks and four strikeouts to end his season with a 17-4 record. Fernando Rodney got the final four outs for his 37th save of the year.
Todd Redmond (4-3) absorbed the loss after giving up five runs on four hits with a walk and strikeout in just 2/3 inning of work.
Tampa Bay charged out of the gate, scoring six in the first while batting around for the first time since May 8 against Toronto at Tropicana Field. The last time Tampa Bay scored six runs in the first inning was Sept. 10, 2010, at Toronto.
Wil Myers got the inning started with a one-out double to center field. James Loney followed with a single to right that scored Myers. Evan Longoria doubled home Loney to put the Rays up 2-0.
Delmon Young added an RBI single and Jose Lobaton doubled home two more. Yunel Escobar singled home the final run of the inning to give the Rays a sizable lead before the Blue Jays had their first at-bat.
Moore had a rocky start, walking his first three batters but escaped with no damage thanks to a double play and a strikeout of Mark DeRosa to end the inning.
After two silent innings on offense, the Rays extended their lead to 7-0 in the fourth, when Myers doubled off the wall in left to drive home Escobar.
Moore settled into a nice rhythm, posting five scoreless innings before DeRosa hit a two-run double with one out in the sixth.
After Ryan Langerhans added a single, Jake McGee entered the game to take over from Moore. Then, J.P. Arencibia hit a sacrifice fly to cut the lead to 7-3.
The Blue Jays scored another in the seventh, when Brett Lawrie doubled home a run off McGee. The Blue Jays went on to load the bases with one out — a situation that led to Rays manager Joe Maddon’s 32nd career ejection — but Joel Peralta got pinch-hitter Adam Lind to hit into an inning-ending double play.