Choi and Lowe HR, Rays beat Jays 2-0 to reach 90-win mark
TORONTO (AP) — Drew Rasmussen combined with four relievers on a three-hitter. Brandon Lowe and Ji-Man Choi homered and the Tampa Bay Rays became the first AL team to reach 90 wins by beating the Toronto Blue Jays 2-0 Tuesday night.
After losing four of their previous five, the East-leading Rays hit the 90-win mark for the eighth time — all in the past 14 seasons.
Pitching well and playing good defense to defeat a post-season contender put the Rays in an October frame of mind.
“Mike Zunino came in after the game and said ‘That’s what a playoff game feels like,’” Rasmussen said. “To go out there and see how well our pitching staff did, and also how well our defense played, that really gives our team a lot of confidence. We can match up with the best of them.”
Lowe also sensed a playoff energy in the game.
“It definitely felt very postseason-like,” Lowe said. “Every at bat was tense, on both sides of the diamond.
Tampa Bay (90-55) stopped a two-game losing streak. The Rays have not lost three in a row since July 25-28.
Blue Jays right-hander José Berríos (11-8) allowed one run and four hits in seven innings before leaving because of soreness in his left abdominal muscle.
“He felt something on his side,” Blue Jays manager Charlie Montoyo said. “Of course, he was doing a great job. We’ll see how it feels tomorrow. He’s getting treatment right now.”
Toronto (81-64) dropped into a tie with the New York Yankees for the two AL wild cards, with the Boston Red Sox percentage points behind. The Blue Jays had scored 52 runs in winning their previous four games.
Rasmussen (3-1) allowed two hits in five innings.
“He had to be as close to perfect as possible,” Rays manager Kevin Cash said. “Berríos was kind of matching him toe-to-toe there.”
Toronto threatened in the fourth when George Springer doubled and Marcus Semien walked. Rasumussen got Vladimir Guerrero Jr. to line out to center, struck out Bo Bichette and retired Teoscar Hernández on a liner.
“In a game like that, that’s probably the most pivotal point of the game for us,” Cash said.
Pete Fairbanks pitched around a leadoff single in the sixth, JT Chargois benefitted from right fielder Randy Arozarena’s diving catch on Corey Dickerson’s liner for the final out of the seventh and David Robertson worked a 1-2-3 eighth.
Facing the top of the order, Andrew Kittredge pitched a perfect ninth for his seventh save in eight chances.
Choi’s leadoff drive in the second, his 10th home run this season, was the only run allowed by Berríos, who lost for the first time in four starts despite scattering four hits over seven innings.
Berríos entered 0-2 with a 7.15 ERA in four games against the Rays. He faced them for the first time since May 2019, when he was with Minnesota.
Lowe hit his 34th home run of the season in the eighth on the first pitch he saw from left-hander Tim Mayza.
CATCH(ES) OF THE DAY
Besides Arozarena’s grab, Rays shortstop Joey Wendle made a diving catch on Springer’s liner in the first, and center fielder Manuel Margot made a sliding catch on Reese McGuire’s sinking liner in the third.
The Blue Jays also turned in several fine plays. Shortstop Bo Bichette made a diving stop on Margot’s groudner in the second, throwing him out to prevent a run from scoring. In the ninth, Bichette ranged into shallow left to catch Wendle’s short flare.
The Blue Jays were shut out for the third time, the lowest total in the majors. Atlanta, Boston, and the Los Angeles Dodgers had each been held scoreless five times entering play Tuesday.
Cash said SS Wander Franco (right hamstring) is progressing well and could start taking swings off a tee Wednesday. Franco is eligible to return Sept. 21. … Cash said there’s no clarity on the status of RHP Chris Archer (left hip) after Archer was examined by a team doctor in Florida. Archer left Saturday’s start against Deteoit after four innings because of soreness in his hip.
Rays RHPs Shawn Armstrong and David Hess cleared waivers and were assigned outright to Triple-A Durham.
Blue Jays LHP Robbie Ray (11-5, 2.69) gets the start against Rays RHP Michael Wacha (3-4, 5.37) in Wednesday’s series finale. Ray is 1-1 with a 2.00 ERA in four starts against Tampa Bay this season.
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