All games count, even when they don’t ultimately matter.
The Tampa Bay Rays defeated the Toronto Blue Jays 7-5 on Saturday in a game the Rays managed more like a Spring Training game, giving players rest than the second to last game of the season, preparing for a postseason run since they already have the top Wild Card spot secured. The Blue Jays ultimately clinched the postseason despite the loss but certainly needed the win more than the Rays.
The Rays jumped onto the board early in the top of the first inning. After Randy Arozarena hit a double and Harold Ramirez singled to left, Isaac Paredes delivered with an RBI single to bring Arozarena home, giving the Rays an early 1-0 lead.
Cavan Biggio for the Blue Jays made a great play on a leaping catch to retire Curtis Mead in the top of the third. In the next at-bat, Josh Lowe hit the ball beyond Biggio’s reach for a RBI-double to score Ramirez and extend the Rays lead to 2-0.
In the bottom of the third, the Blue Jays responded with Daulton Varsho’s solo home run, his 20th of the season, bringing the score to a 2-1 Rays lead.
The Blue Jays turned the game around in their favor in the fourth inning. After a key fielding error by shortstop Taylor Walls, Daulton Varsho came up big again with a two-run single. George Springer added another run, batting in Whit Merrifield, flipping the score to a 4-2 Blue Jays lead.
The Rays retaliated in the fifth inning with Harold Ramirez sending the ball out of the park for a two-run home run, tying the game at 4-4. Josh Lowe also threatened with a sharp double but was left stranded.
Amid some tense moments and errors, Erik Swanson managed to wriggle out of trouble, leading thanks to a double play that kept the game tied.
Rays’ top-prospect Junior Caminero showcased his defensive skills with a remarkable barehanded play in the seventh inning.
Christian Bethancourt hit what had the potential to be a crucial double in the eighth inning, but the Rays could not seize the opportunity and take the lead.
Two walks and two singles were all the Rays needed in the tenth inning to secure the win. After Jonathan Aranda hit a line drive to Kevin Kiermaier for the first out, the Blue Jays intentionally walked Josh Lowe. Ramiel Tapia entered the game as a pinch-hitter for Manuel Margot and drew his own walk. Two at-bats later, Taylor Walls came through with a line drive single to score Osleives Basabe and Lowe. Junior Caminero followed with another RBI single, scoring Tapia to make it a 7-4 game.
A Bo Bichette RBI-double-scoring Cavan Biggio was all the rally the Blue Jays had in the bottom of the tenth as the Rays sealed their 98th victory of the season with a 7-5 win.
The Rays used seven pitchers to get through this game, with five just pitching a single inning, including the game’s opener, Shawn Armstrong. Cooper Criswell had a challenging 3.0 innings, giving up four hits and four runs, with three of those being earned. He also surrendered a home run and issued two walks, striking out three batters.
Pete Fairbanks faced a bit of trouble, allowing a hit and a walk in his frame, but kept the Blue Jays from scoring.
Finally, Chris Devenski sealed the victory in his 2.0 innings to earn the win. He allowed two hits and an unearned run while striking out one.
These two teams will close out the regular season against each other on Sunday and then may face each other in the Wild Card Series, depending on the outcome of Sunday’s games.