Jays gain wild card, topping Rays 5-3 in Dickey's 100th win
TORONTO (AP) The Toronto Blue Jays clinched their first playoff berth in 22 years, ending baseball's longest active postseason drought.
They got there behind R.A. Dickey and Josh Donaldson in a 5-3 victory over the Tampa Bay Rays, and a later result Friday night that helped sort out the complicated arithmetic of the AL postseason. Dickey pitched seven innings for his 100th career victory and Donaldson hit his 40th home run.
''This is really good to celebrate this, at home, in my 100th start for the Blue Jays,'' Dickey said. ''It's really poetic.''
Toronto extended its AL East lead to four games after the White Sox beat the Yankees. The Blue Jays were then assured at least a wild-card berth when Minnesota fell 6-4 at Detroit.
''The wild-card game is not something that we as a unit would celebrate,'' Dickey said. ''We're after the division championship.''
With the AL West trio of Texas, Houston and the Los Angeles Angels all to face one another before the end of the season, only two of the three can finish with as many wins as Toronto's current total of 88.
The Blue Jays haven't been to the postseason since winning their second straight World Series in 1993. Seattle, which last went to the playoffs in 2001, inherits the title of longest drought.
Jose Bautista and Kevin Pillar also went deep for Toronto, which leads the majors with 217 homers, the fourth highest total in team history. The Blue Jays hit 257 homers in 2010.
''It's no secret,'' Rays manager Kevin Cash said. ''We know that they have the ability to hit the ball out of the ballpark.''
Dickey (11-11), who came in winless in his last three starts, settled down after a shaky first. The knuckleballer retired 18 of the final 19 batters he faced, including the last 11 straight.
''It looked like it was dancing pretty good tonight,'' Cash said. ''After the first inning, there weren't too many hard-hit balls off him.''
Dickey said he found success by changing speeds with his knuckleball.
''It seemed like the slower one had a lot more movement, so I used that one as kind of the catalyst,'' he said. ''It was in their heads that I was going to take it down a notch, and then when I did throw a hard one sometimes, it would beat them.''
Tampa Bay catcher J.P. Arencibia hit a leadoff homer off Mark Lowe in the eighth, and Roberto Osuna finished for his 18th save.
Three of the first four batters reached safely against Dickey as the Rays scored twice in the opening inning. Grady Sizemore came home on a wild pitch and Asdrubal Cabrera followed with a sacrifice fly.
Back-to-back doubles by Pillar and Cliff Pennington halved the deficit in the second, and Donaldson's homer off Jake Odorizzi tied it in the third.
Donaldson became the ninth Blue Jays player to reach the 40-homer mark. He joins Carlos Delgado (2000) and Shawn Green (1999) as the only Toronto players to post 40 home runs and 40 doubles in the same season.
''He's had a huge year, an MVP year,'' Blue Jays manager John Gibbons said.
Pillar put the Blue Jays on top when he connected off Odorizzi to begin the fourth. Pennington followed with his second double, went to third on a sacrifice and scored on Ben Revere's single.
Bautista homered into the second deck off Kirby Yates to begin the seventh for his 37th.
Odorizzi (8-9) allowed four runs and seven hits in five innings.
Blue Jays C Russell Martin raced to the far end of Toronto's third base dugout to make a running catch on Sizemore's foul popup in the third, reaching into the dugout to make the grab.
BEEN A WHILE
Toronto's 88 wins and 51 home wins are their most since 1988.
Rays: LHP Jake McGee (left knee) is expected to come off the 15-day DL Saturday. McGee has been out since Aug. 18.
Blue Jays: Donaldson was the DH while Pennington started at 3B. ... SS Troy Tulowitzki (broken left shoulder blade) took swings off a tee Thursday, then fielded grounders and played catch Friday. He's due to hit off the tee again Saturday. ''Feel like I'm moving a lot better,'' Tulowitzki said.
Rays: RHP Chris Archer (12-12, 2.92 ERA) seeks to snap a four-start winless streak. He's 3-1 with a 0.93 ERA in four starts against the Blue Jays this season.
Blue Jays: LHP David Price (17-5, 2.34 ERA) is 4-0 with a 1.38 ERA over his past four starts. He'll face his former team for the first time since July 28 with Detroit, when he gave up five runs and seven hits in six innings, including two home runs by Rays C Curt Casali.