Rays clinch postseason spot with win over Blue Jays

Toronto Blue Jays catcher Reese McGuire (L) watches Tampa Bay Rays designated hitter Austin Meadows hit a three-run home run Wednesday at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Fla. Photo by Steven J. Nesius/UPI

Toronto Blue Jays catcher Reese McGuire (L) watches Tampa Bay Rays designated hitter Austin Meadows hit a three-run home run Wednesday at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Fla. Photo by Steven J. Nesius/UPI | License Photo

Sept. 23 (UPI) — Austin Meadows hit a three-run homer and Tampa Bay Rays pitchers held a powerful, Vladimir-Guerrero-Jr-led lineup to just four hits to beat the Toronto Blue Jays and clinch a postseason berth in their 153rd game of 2021.

Left fielder Randy Arozarena recorded three hits in the 7-1 triumph Wednesday at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Fla. Rays starter Luis Patino allowed one hit in three scoreless innings.

“We’re in the postseason. That’s great,” Rays second baseman Brandon Lowe told reporters. “We’re all excited about that.

“But to say that we don’t have bigger aspirations in that clubhouse, we’d be lying to everybody. We have our eyes on something else.”

The Rays bullpen combined to allow three hits and one run over the final six innings. The win clinched the Rays’ third-consecutive postseason appearance. They lead the Boston Red Sox by six games for first place in the American League’s East division.

The Blue Jays loaded the bases with two outs in the top of the first, but couldn’t get a runner home. The Rays got two runners on in the bottom of the inning, but also left them stranded.

The Rays took control with a six-run third inning. Lowe led off the bottom half of the inning with a single to left. Arozarena followed with a double. Blue Jays relief pitcher Ross Stripling then issued a walk to Rays first baseman Ji-Man Choi to load the bases.

Third baseman Yandy Diaz brought Lowe home two pitches later with a sacrifice fly to center field.

Meadows then hit a 1-0 Stripling fastball to right field for a 443-foot, three-run homer. The blast traveled 106 mph off his bat, according to Statcast.

Rays shortstop Taylor Walls pushed the lead to 6-0 with a two-run single later in the inning.

Diaz plated Arozarena with a single to center field in the bottom of the fourth. Right fielder Teoscar Hernandez brought in the Blue Jays’ lone run with a sacrifice fly to center in the top of the sixth.

Guerrero went 2 for 3 with a walk and a run scored in the loss. Blue Jays starter Julian Merryweather allowed one hit and one walk in one inning. Stripling allowed five hits and five runs in 1 1/3 innings to drop to 5-7 this season.

The Rays (94-59) host the Miami Marlins at 7: 10 p.m. EDT Thursday in St. Petersburg. The Blue Jays (85-67) face the Minnesota Twins at 7: 40 p.m. EDT Thursday at Target Field in Minneapolis.

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