Rays clinch 3rd consecutive playoff berth with win over Blue Jays
The Rays are the first American League team to guarantee themselves a spot in the postseason, joining the National League's San Francisco Giants, Los Angeles Dodgers, and Milwaukee Brewers.
This marks the third consecutive year that Tampa Bay has punched its ticket to October. The Rays made it all the way to the World Series in 2020 before being ousted by the Dodgers in six games.
Outfielder Austin Meadows blasted a three-run homer as part of a six-run third inning, putting the Blue Jays in a hole too deep for them to overcome. Randy Arozarena also scored a pair of runs while tallying three hits in the lopsided win.
Right-hander Luis Patino allowed just one hit and one walk on three innings of work as both teams went with a bullpen day for the series finale.
Benches cleared in the eighth inning when Blue Jays reliever Ryan Borucki hit Rays outfielder Kevin Kiermaier in the back with his first pitch. This comes two days after Kiermaier scooped up a Blue Jays scouting card that fell from catcher Alejandro Kirk's wristband. Borucki was ejected, though he said the play wasn't intentional.
It's the first time since 2011 that the Rays have clinched at home. Manager Kevin Cash was ecstatic for his players and the organization for its sustained success.
While the Rays have locked down a spot in the postseason, the AL East is still in play. However, Tampa Bay's magic number to clinch the division is now four, so the team is on track barring a collapse over the season's final weeks.
Additionally, the Rays, who currently hold the AL's top record at 94-59, are still playing for home-field advantage throughout the postseason.