Blue Jays clinch playoff berth, beat Red Sox 2-1
BOSTON (AP) — Aaron Sanchez said he didn’t know — and didn’t care — that the Blue Jays had already clinched a spot in baseball’s postseason.
Toronto still had a chance to host the AL wild-card game, and Sanchez wanted the win.
“I wasn’t ready to go home,” he said after the Blue Jays beat the Boston Red Sox 2-1 in the regular season finale on Sunday to claim the AL’s top wild-card berth. “For it to come down to (Game) 162, and me being out there ... there was a lot at stake in that game. And it was in my hands.”
Sanchez took a no-hitter into the seventh, and Troy Tulowitzki singled to break an eighth-inning tie. Roberto Osuna retired David Ortiz on a weak nubber in front of the plate on the final regular season at-bat of his career, and then got Jackie Bradley Jr. on a groundout with two on to finish the game.
The Blue Jays had a muted celebration on the field, then popped champagne in the visitor’s clubhouse at Fenway Park.
“I’m (usually) straight-faced,” Tulowitzki said. “But that was fun out there.”
Toronto clinched a spot in the postseason when Detroit lost to Atlanta 1-0 earlier Sunday evening. With their win in Boston, the Blue Jays earned the right to host the Baltimore Orioles in a one-game playoff on Tuesday.
The Red Sox will start their AL Division Series against the Indians on Thursday in Cleveland.
“We’ve been able to win on the road and that’s where our playoff journey begins,” manager John Farrell said.
Pitching with Jose Fernandez’s initials on his hat in tribute to the Marlins pitcher who died last week, Sanchez held Boston hitless until Hanley Ramirez’s disputed home run with two outs in the seventh. The ball sailed over the foul pole above the Green Monster.
Sanchez tried to wave the ball foul and then yelled to the umpire, “No way!” But the replay upheld the original call.
“For me, it looked foul,” he said, but added that it didn’t matter as long as the Blue Jays won.
Xander Bogaerts followed with a single — the only other hit allowed by Sanchez, who lowered his ERA to 3.00 and clinched the AL title. In all, Sanchez (15-2) allowed one run, walking two, striking out six and hitting a batter.
“You have to give credit to Sanchez. He was (the) one today,” Ortiz said. “That’s the best I’ve ever seen him.”
The Blue Jays took the lead back in the eighth against Brad Ziegler (2-4) when Tulowitzki singled with runners on first and third. Toronto’s other run came on Devon Travis’ solo homer in the fifth.
Boston put runners on first and second with two out in the ninth, but Osuna retired Bradley to end the game for his 36th save.
The Red Sox lost five of their last six games — following an 11-game win streak — and missed out on home-field advantage by one game.
Manager John Farrell said he wasn’t concerned that his team lost momentum.
“We were in all of these games and could have won about three of them,” he said. “This team is confident.”
PREPPING FOR PLAYOFFS
David Price allowed one run and four hits, walking three and striking out four in five innings in his final tuneup before starting Game 2 of the ALDS for Boston. Farrell said 22-game winner Rick Porcello will start Game 1.
Clay Buchholz and Eduardo Rodriguez are expected to pitch Games 3 and 4, though Farrell wouldn’t say in what order.
The loss did little to spoil the celebration for Ortiz, who went hitless in four at-bats. Walking off the field after making the second out in the ninth, Ortiz tapped the bill of his cap.
The team announced it will retire his No. 34 sometime next year in a pregame ceremony that featured former Red Sox stars like Carl Yastrzemski and teammates from Ortiz’s three World Series championship clubs.
The Red Sox draped a Dominican flag over the Green Monster, played the Dominican national anthem and invited Dominican Republic President Danilo Medina to throw out a ceremonial first pitch.
Ortiz dropped to one knee and tipped his cap to the crowd.
“I almost dropped to both knees,” he said after the game, “but it was going to be hard getting up.”