The Tampa Bay Rays were just playing out the string on Sunday in Toronto against the Blue Jays. But this wasn't your typical playing-out-the-string situation, as the Rays were getting ready to take a flight to Oakland for Wednesday night's wild-card game against the A's, after Oakland defeated Seattle 1-0 on Satuirday night.
So game 162 was really just a day to play and have some fun, as Manager Kevin Cash welcomed Yandy Diaz (who went 0-for-3, but hit the ball hard twice) back into the lineup along with many regulars to tune up for Wednesday's game. It also allowed Cash to survey his roster and make some early decisions regarding his wild-card game roster.
And the Rays once again put forth a lackluster showing, falling to Toronto 8-3, losing two of the final three games of the season.
However, this game was nothing to be alarmed about for Rays fans, as Cash substituted a lot of regulars in the starting lineup throughout the game.
It was Teoscar Hernandez once again providing the big blow for the Blue Jays, hitting a three-run homer in the bottom of the fourth inning off Yonny Chirinos to break the game open.
Like Saturday's game, where Toronto scored three in the first inning, the Blue Jays attacked Rays starting pitching early, scoring twice in the frame. Hernandez, who led off Saturday's game with a home run, singled off Blake Snell to lead off on Sunday. Cavan Biggio then followed with another single.
With two outs, each runner advanced a base separately, Hernandez stealing third, and Biggio advancing to second on a Snell wild pitch. That set the stage for Justin Smoak, likely making his last appearance in a Blue Jays uniform, doubling both home.
Kevin Cash removed Snell for Brendan McKay after striking out Randal Grichuk in the third.
In the fourth, Ji-Man Choi hit a solo home run to cut the lead to 2-1, and was removed from the game afterward for precautionary measures, as the nagging injury he sustained on a foul ball off his foot in last Wednesday's game against the Yankees slowed his trot around the bases. Choi was 2-for-2, adding a first-inning double to his homer, showing that his bat is not as bad as his foot is, making Cash's decision regarding Choi for Wednesday's game a tough one.
The Jays added a run in the sixth on a solo homer by Breyvic Valera off Chirinos, and two more in the seventh on three consecutive two-out doubles by Rowdy Tellez, Smoak (likely in his last Toronto appearance) and Valera, all off Anthony Banda.
The Rays picked up two in the eighth on an RBI groundout by Jesus Aguilar, and an RBI single by Guillermo Heredia.
Now, the real season starts, Wednesday night in Oakland.
*The Rays finished 96-66, falling one victory short of tying the team record set by the 2008 AL Champions.
* Blake Snell took the loss, finishing the season 6-8. The 2018 AL Cy Young winner allowed two runs on three hits in two and a third innings. He struck out four. Clay Buchholz got his second win, allowing only Choi's home run, on four hits.
* The Rays will go with Charlie Morton Wednesday in Oakland in the American League Wild Card game. The A's have not announced a starter. First pitch is set for 8:09 p.m. ET.