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Blue Jays Still Have Chance For Home Field Advantage

10/04/2015 02:51 EDT | Updated 10/04/2016 05:12 EDT
On the day of their 162nd and final game of the regular season, the Toronto Blue Jays (93-68) need a victory over the Tampa Bay Rays and a loss by the Kansas City Royals in Minnesota to earn home field advantage throughout the playoffs.

Regardless of the outcome of Sunday's games, the Blue Jays will open the playoffs Thursday, October 8 at the Rogers Centre. But they may rue Saturday's 9th inning 5-4 walk-off loss to the Rays that removed control of their own destiny with the Royals in the bid for the home field edge.

The team with the best record in the American League will host the winner of Tuesday's wild card game. That match-up could be decided Sunday with every team starting play at either 3:05 or 3:10 p.m. ET. The New York Yankees have clinched one wild card spot but the other one is not yet determined.

The Blue Jays could have wrapped up the best record by winning their final two games but fell one game behind Kansas City (94-67) with the Saturday defeat. Should the Blue Jays win Sunday and the Royals lose to the Twins, the Jays would earn best record on the basis of a 4-3 edge over the Royals in the season's series between the two clubs.

Saturday's setback

Edwin Encarnacion homered for the fourth consecutive game to push his total to 39 before the Rays rallied for a 4-3 walk-off victory Saturday that evened the season series at 9-9. Encarnacion attempts to join Josh Donaldson (41) and Jose Bautista (40) in the Toronto's 40-homer club in 2015 while shortstop Troy Tulowitzki is expected back in the lineup after sitting out Saturday. Tampa Bay snapped a five-game losing streak against the Blue Jays on Tim Beckham's two-run single in the ninth Saturday. Asdrubal Cabrera also homered in the contest for the Rays and boasts nine RBIs in his last nine games.

Pitching matchup

- Blue Jays LH Mark Buehrle (15-7, 3.82 ERA) or RH Drew Hutchison (13-5, 5.47) vs. Rays LH Matt Moore (2-4, 5.84)


Toronto manager John Gibbons told reporters if Buehrle feels up to it, he will get the start despite tossing 6 2/3 innings in a victory over the Rays on Friday. Buehrle needs two innings to reach 200 for the 15th consecutive season and Hutchison gave up three runs in one inning of a start Thursday at Baltimore before a rain delay. Buehrle is 12-6 lifetime versus the Rays while Hutchison is 4-2 – winning both starts this season.

The Rays' Matt Moore hopes to finish the season with his fourth consecutive strong performance as he makes his 12th start since returning from Tommy John surgery. The 26-year-old limited his last three opponents to three runs with 19 strikeouts and three walks over 20 2/3 innings combined. Russell Martin is 3-for-5 with a pair of homers against Moore, who is 4-2 with a 3.27 ERA in eight career starts -- none this season -- against Toronto.

Walk-offs

- Blue Jays CF Kevin Pillar is 20-for-36 during a nine-game hitting streak, recording at least two hits in seven of those outings.

- Tampa Bay OF Grady Sizemore belted a double in the ninth inning Saturday to extend his hitting streak to eight games.

- Toronto LF Ben Revere has hit safely in seven consecutive contests, going 13-for-34 with five RBIs.

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