TORONTO (AP) — Jonathan Aranda hit his first career grand slam and drove in six runs, Tampa Bay homered three times to set a single-season team record and the Rays roughed up the Toronto Blue Jays 12-8 on the final day of the regular season Sunday, helping to set up a wild card meeting with the Texas Rangers.
Toronto’s loss and Houston’s win at Arizona means the Rays will host the Rangers while the Blue Jays visit Minnesota in the AL wild card series beginning Tuesday.
Tampa Bay’s Yandy Díaz won the AL batting title by sitting out the final day of the season. Díaz returned Friday after missing two games because of a sore right hamstring. He struck out as a pinch hitter on Saturday.
Díaz began the day in a tight race with Texas shortstop Corey Seager, with Seager ahead .3298 to .3295. Seager went 0 for 4 in a 1-0 loss at Seattle, dropping his average to .327.
Aranda connected in a seven-run second inning, his second home run. Aranda came into Game 162 with seven RBIs and went 3 for 5 with six RBIs in the regular season finale.
Margot’s two-out blast in the fourth inning was Tampa Bay’s 229th home run, breaking the mark set in 2017. Margot connected for the fourth time.
Caminero made it 10-3 when he homered off left-hander Tim Mayza in the fifth. The rookie lost his batting helmet on his swing and circled the bases without it.
The Rays were 85-39 when hitting at least one home run, and 52-13 when hitting two or more.
Tampa Bay finished 99-63, a 13-game improvement from last season’s 86-76 mark.
Brandon Belt hit his 19th home run for the Blue Jays, who sat Vladimir Guerrero Jr., George Springer, Alejandro Kirk and Matt Chapman on the final day. Toronto clinched a wild card berth when Seattle lost to Texas onSaturday night.
Toronto finished 89-73, three wins shy of 2022, when they finished in the top wild card position. The Blue Jays were swept at home by the Mariners in the wild card round. Toronto hasn’t won a postseason game since 2016.
Both teams recalled Triple-A pitchers to start the regular season finale, with Tampa Bay promoting left-hander Jacob Lopez from Durham and the Blue Jays bringing right-hander Wes Parsons up from Buffalo.
Lopez (1-0) allowed six runs, five earned, and eight hits in 5 1/3 innings.
Parsons (0-1) allowed nine runs and 10 hits in four innings.
With a crowd of 42,058 in the home finale, Toronto finished with a total attendance of 3,021,904. The Blue Jays topped 3,000,000 for the eighth time overall and the first time since 2017.
OFF THE SCHNEID
Toronto’s Davis Schneider snapped an 0-for-31 slump with a double in the third.
Rays: To make room for Lopez, Tampa Bay optioned RHP Cooper Criswell to Triple-A Durham.
Blue Jays: To make room for Parsons, RHP Jay Jackson was designated for assignment.
Rays: Manager Kevin Cash said OFs Luke Raley (cervical strain) and Jose Siri (fractured right hand) will face live pitching Monday, a test of their potential abilities to be ready for the wild card series.
Tampa Bay hosts Texas in the AL wild card series, while Toronto visits Minnesota. Both series begin Tuesday.
AP MLB: https://apnews.com/hub/mlb
Ian Harrison, The Associated Press