With 59 games in the books, this shortened regular season had just one game left. Josh Fleming was tasked with ending the season on a high-note for the AL East Champions while Aaron Nola took the mound for the Phillies, whose Postseason chances hang in the balance of three must-happen scenarios: Phillies win, Brewers and Giants loss.
Fleming looked really good to start the game, striking out Andrew McCutchen looking for the first out in the first and JT Realmuto swinging for the third out in the first.
Nate Lowe got the second inning started with a leadoff single but was thrown out at second when Joey Wendle grounded into a fielder’s choice. Wendle moved up to third after Hunter Renfroe hit a single and Wendle scored when pinch-hitter Kevan Smith hit a single to left. Smith pinch-hit for center fielder Brett Phillips, who was taken as a precaution for right hamstring tightness.
Kevan Smith gets us off and running! pic.twitter.com/xAO8pC2GFE— Tampa Bay Rays - z (@RaysBaseball) September 27, 2020
The bottom of the third inning saw Randy Arozarena draw a two-out walk before moving to third on a Nate Lowe single. Arozarena scored when Joey Wendle singed, and Nate Lowe scored when Hunter Renfroe singled, giving the Rays a 3-0 lead. Kevan Smith grounded out to end the inning.
Aaron Nola’s day was done after walking Brandon Lowe in the bottom of the fourth, but Hector Neris was brought in and got out of the inning for the Phillies.
Josh Fleming was smooth sailing throughout the evening for the Rays, recording his fourth strikeout in the top of the sixth against Bryce Harper. On the 90th and final pitch of his outing, Fleming struck out Jean Segura to end the sixth inning.
Kevan Smith hit a double to lead off the bottom of the sixth and Mike Brosseau plated Smith with a triple to right field over the head of Scott Kingery. Neris threw a wild pitch while striking Michael Perez out and that allowed Brosseau to score, making it 5-0 Rays.
Hector Neris was replaced by Zach Eflin in the bottom of the sixth, and Eflin was replaced by JoJo Romero in the bottom of the eighth.
Oliver Drake was brought in to pitch the top of the seventh, ending Fleming’s really strong outing. Fleming threw 90 pitches, striking out five over six innings of work, allowing four hits and walking one. Drake tossed a 1-2-3 seventh inning.
Fleming put on his Sunday Best pic.twitter.com/a87azpU5yp— Tampa Bay Rays - z (@RaysBaseball) September 27, 2020
Aaron Loup got the ball for the top of the eighth and just like the pitchers before him, allowed no runs in his appearance.
Ryan Sherriff was tasked with closing the regular season out. Sherriff allowed a leadoff single but induced a double play. Didi Gregorious grounded out to eliminate the Phillies from Postseason contention and mark the end of the 2020 regular season.
The Rays finished the regular season with 40 wins, making their record an even 40-20. Next up, the Postseason begins with the Wild Card Series, where the Rays will be facing the Toronto Blue Jays in a best-of-three series inside of Tropicana Field.
Blake Snell is scheduled to start Game 1 for the Rays against the Blue Jays on Tuesday with Toronto’s starter and first pitch time both TBD, although presumably Hyun-Jin Ryu will start for the Blue Jays.