TORONTO — The Tampa Bay Rays returned to the playoffs for the first time since 2013, clinching an AL wild card berth with a 6-2 win over the Toronto Blue Jays on Friday night behind Tommy Pham’s two-run homer and 4 1/3 hitless innings from Tyler Glasnow.

Tampa Bay will play Oakland on the wild-card game on Wednesday night. The Rays will start Charlie Morton.

At 96-64, the low-budget Rays have their most wins since 2010 and can tie the team record of 97 set in 2008, when they won their only AL pennant and lost to Philadelphia in the World Series.

Tampa Bay began the night with a magic number of two to clinch, and Cleveland lost 8-2 at Washington while the Rays were in the eighth inning.

Jubilant players poured out of Tampa Bay’s dugout for a celebration around the mound after right-hander Emilio Pagan retired Reese McGuire to end it.


NATIONALS 8, INDIANS 2: Cleveland will miss out on the postseason for the first time since 2015, eliminated from the AL wild-card race by losing at Washington.

Manager Terry Francona’s Indians won the AL Central each of the past three years, but they spent most of this season in second place behind the Minnesota Twins, who took over the division lead for good on Aug. 13.

Gerardo Parra had four RBI to lead the Nationals to their sixth straight win.


METS 4, BRAVES 2: Pete Alonso hit his 52nd homer to match Aaron Judge’s rookie record, and New York won at home.

PIRATES 6, REDS 5: Kevin Newman hit a two-run homer with two outs in the ninth inning to give Pittsburgh a win at home.


NATIONALS: The Nationals don’t know which team they’ll face in the NL wild-card game or where it will be played, but they do know this: Three-time Cy Young Award winner Max Scherzer will be their starting pitcher.

Scherzer got the nod over Stephen Strasburg for Tuesday night’s win-or-go-home game against either the Milwaukee Brewers or St. Louis Cardinals. Any of the three clubs could host the contest, depending how the rest of the regular season goes.

Washington Manager Dave Martinez said Friday that the right-handed Strasburg and lefty starter Patrick Corbin will be on the wild-card roster and be available to pitch in relief.

“I talked to both of them,” Martinez said. “They’ll both be out of the `pen that day. So all hands will be on deck.”

How did Martinez decide to go with Scherzer, who missed most of July and August with a back muscle issue and finished with 27 starts, his fewest since his debut season in 2008?

“I based it on the bigger picture. Obviously, he feels good. And he’s ready. He’s going to have like seven, eight days’ rest. I told him, `You should go on regular routine and get ready for Tuesday,”‘ Martinez said. “With that being said, Strasburg is going to be on his regular rest and regular routine. So that’s kind of nice, to have those two guys, plus Corbin, that will be on three days’ rest if we need to put him in for an inning or two. He’s available to do that, as well.”

If Strasburg does not appear Tuesday and the Nationals win, he would start Game 1 or 2 of the NL Division Series against the Los Angeles Dodgers. Scherzer probably wouldn’t be available until Game 3 of that potential series.

Washington’s top trio formed among the best rotation fronts in the majors all season. All three finished in the NL’s top 10 in ERA, strikeouts and hits allowed per nine innings.
Scherzer went 11-7 with a 2.92 ERA and 243 strikeouts in 172 1/3 innings; Strasburg was 18-6 with a 3.32 ERA and 251 strikeouts in 209 innings; and Corbin went 14-7 with a 3.05 ERA and 230 strikeouts in 197 2/3 innings.

YANKEES: Catcher Gary Sanchez was set to play at least part of the series opener in Texas after missing 10 games with left groin tightness, and the club has decided on a cautious approach with Edwin Encarnacion’s left oblique injury.

Manager Aaron Boone said Sanchez would play roughly five innings, getting two or three plate appearances, against the Rangers on Friday night. Encarnacion has missed 11 games since leaving the first game of a doubleheader at Detroit after hitting his 34th home run Sept. 12.

Encarnacion is sitting after initial indications that he would play. Boone said “mentally he’s probably not quite over that hump where he needs to be.” Boone said the concern is a tweak of the injury sidelining the 36-year-old designated hitter and first baseman in the playoffs for the AL East champions.

Gio Urshela was back in the lineup at third base after a day after missing a game in Tampa Bay. Urshela was hit by a pitch on his left hand on Wednesday. He said before the game there was “no pain at all.”

SALES: Aaron Judge had the top-selling jersey in Major League Baseball for the third consecutive season.

The New York Yankees’ slugger beat out Bryce Harper, according to results released by MLB.

Harper set a uniform sales record for any athlete in a 24-hour window after signing a $330 million, 13-year deal with the Philadelphia Phillies in February. Since opening day, he’s ranked second in sales behind Judge, followed by NL MVP contender Cody Bellinger of the Los Angeles Dodgers.

Reigning NL MVP Christian Yelich of the Milwaukee Brewers had the fifth-most popular jersey. He didn’t crack the top 20 last season.

Mike Trout of the Los Angeles Angels ranked ninth, a two-spot improvement from 2018.

Chicago Cubs infielder Javier Baez finished fourth and was joined in the top 20 by teammates Anthony Rizzo (10) and Kris Bryant (16). The Houston Astros also placed three players that high: Jose Altuve (8), Alex Bregman (13) and George Springer (20).

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