The rubber-match of this week’s three-game series against the Toronto Blue Jays is the most important one, as a win today will secure the Rays’ spot in the 2021 Postseason. Luis Patiño takes the mound against Blue Jays opener Julian Merryweather.
A midweek matinee to finish our series vs the Blue Jays pic.twitter.com/rkf13mf66v— Tampa Bay Rays (@RaysBaseball) September 22, 2021
Patiño worked around loading the bases in the first to prevent the Blue Jays from getting on the board first. The Rays put two runners on in the bottom of the first, but were also unable to bring home a run.
Patiño’s second inning was much better, setting the Jays down 1-2-3. Ross Stripling entered the game to pitch for Toronto after Merryweather’s one-inning open. Francisco Mejia singled with two outs but was stranded on base to end the inning.
The third inning was yet another 1-2-3 frame for Patiño, as he gave way to the offense to finally give him some run support. Brandon Lowe led the bottom of the third off with a single and moved up to third on a Randy Arozarena double. Ji-Man Choi walked to load the bases, and Yandy Diaz brought Lowe home with a sacrifice fly to make it 1-0 Rays.
Two pitches later, Austin Meadows made it 4-0. Hitting his 26th home run on the season, the ball went 443 feet after leaving his bat at 106 mph.
Stripling stayed in after the home run, but allowed a one-out single to Manuel Margot to mark the end of his outing. Tayler Saucedo was brought in, and after striking out Kevin Kiermaier, he allowed a ground-rule double to Francisco Mejia, bringing Taylor Walls up. Walls singled and scored both runners, extending the lead to 6-0.
While this gets sorted out, here's Taylor Walls driving in 2 more runs pic.twitter.com/mvCwzfSjSz— Tampa Bay Rays (@RaysBaseball) September 22, 2021
Brandon Lowe grounded out to end the big inning. JT Chargois entered in the top of the fourth to relieve Patiño. Patiño worked three innings of one-hit ball, walking one batter and striking one out over 37 pitches.
In the bottom of the fourth, Randy hit a leadoff double and moved up to third on a balk. Yandy Diaz drove him home with a one-out single to make it 7-0 Rays. Anthony Castro was brought in to pitch for Toronto with two outs in the inning and didn’t allow any additional runs.
Chargois was relieved by Adam Conley in the top of the fifth and pitched around a fielding error to work a hitless inning. The Rays offense was finally slowed down in the fifth, going down in order.
Conley stayed in to pitch the sixth and was not able to keep the shutout going, allowing a double to Vlad Jr, then a single that moved him up to third, then a sacrifice fly to make it 7-1. JP Feyereisen was brought in after the sacrifice fly and kept the score right where it was.
The offense again went down 1-2-3 in the bottom of the sixth, while in the top of the seventh, Feyereisen worked a clean inning to send it into the bottom of the seventh.
Ryan Borucki entered for the Blue Jays and got an inning-ending double play after allowing a leadoff double. He stayed in the game in the bottom of the eighth and on his very first pitch, drilled Kevin Kiermaier in the back in retaliation to the card-stealing fiasco. The benches cleared and Borucki, in addition to Blue Jays pitching coach Pete Walker, were ejected.
Nate Pearson entered and kept the Rays from scoring, but after all of that, the Rays were just three outs away from clinching their third-straight Postseason appearance. David Roberston was called upon to close this one out, and he needed only nine pitches to do so, securing the Postseason spot for the Rays and ending this one, 7-1.
The most important games of the season are still ahead of us, but securing the chance to play in those games was the first hurdle to be cleared. Before the big games begin, there’s still more regular season games to be played, an a division to be won. The Rays have Thursday off but stay home to welcome the Miami Marlins on Friday night, first pitch scheduled for 7:10 pm.