While the winner of Sunday afternoon’s series finale at Camden Yards would have clinched a playoff spot anyway, the Rays and Orioles found out they both made the cut when it was learned the Rangers lost at Cleveland.
The Rays are postseason bound for the fifth straight year and the Orioles for the first time since 2016.
“Really proud of this group,” said manager Kevin Cash, following a 5-4 loss in 11 innings. “It has taken a lot to get here. I think everybody realizes that (with) the injuries and plenty of things that have taken place. I really commend this group and happy that we are in. Now, let’s see where we go.”
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The Rays (92-59) settled for a split of their four-game series in Baltimore after taking the first two. Hence, they are back where they were heading into the series: two games behind the Orioles (93-56) in the American League East and three back in the loss column.
The Orioles’ 8-0 win on Saturday evening gave them the season series over Tampa Bay and the first tiebreaker should the teams finish the season with the same record. With Sunday’s win, Baltimore took the season series 8-5.
It was a memorable weekend for Tristan Gray, who was called up from Triple-A Durham on Saturday when Taylor Walls was placed on the paternity list. After making his major league debut Saturday, the 27-year-old started (shortstop) for the first time Sunday and singled in the fifth for his first career hit. Gray hit his first homer in the eighth, which gave the Rays a 2-1 lead.
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The Rays (92-59) have 11 games remaining. Following a day off Monday, they return to Tropicana Field for their final homestand of 2023, which begins with a three-game series against the Angels on Tuesday night. The Blue Jays arrive in St. Pete for a three-game weekend series. It will be a critical series for Toronto, which is battling Texas and Seattle for the second and final wild-card spot.
With Shohei Ohtani (oblique) done for the season and Mike Trout (hand) on the injured list, the Rays will see a rather stripped-down Anaheim (68-81) squad doing little more than playing out the string.
Taj Bradley (5-7, 5.56 ERA) will get the start for the Rays on Tuesday night.
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