Blue Jays manager Charlie Montoyo hopes the disappointment of watching the visiting team celebrate a playoff berth at the Rogers Centre wasn’t lost on his young players.
The Tampa Bay Rays’ 6-2 victory against Toronto, coupled with the Washington Nationals’ 8-2 win over the visiting Cleveland Indians, clinched an American League wild-card spot for the Rays on Friday.
“There are two things that happened this year I hope will happen here,” Montoyo said, referring to the Blue Jays watching the Boston Red Sox receive their 2018 World Series rings at Fenway Park on April 9, and the Rays celebration.
“The players by seeing it, I hope they’re thinking, ‘that’s going to be us.’ When we played in Boston, we saw the ring ceremony and now guys clinching here. You know how sweet that is. They’re watching that, and I know we’re going to get there.”
It was the first post-season berth since 2013 for the Rays, an organization Montoyo worked with for 22 seasons before he was named manager of the Blue Jays 11 months ago.
Montoyo coached many of the Rays players as the organization’s minor-league manager and as a bench coach for three years from 2016-18. He also was pleased to see his friends general manager Erik Neander and manager Kevin Cash achieve the success they have this season.
“Of course, for Kevin Cash,” said Montoyo, when asked who is he was happy for in the opposing dugout. “He’s my friend. I know how tough his job is. He’s grinding it out and good for him.”
Cash is a former Blue Jays catcher. He signed with the Blue Jays as an undrafted free agent and spent parts of three seasons (2002-04) in Toronto as primarily a backup and defensive replacement.
“This organization has created a very winning culture, and there’s been a little bit of a drought,” Cash said after the champagne celebration. “We get to hang another banner, we want to hang some more. Really happy to be a part of it.”
Blue Jays second baseman Cavan Biggio watched from the home dugout as the Rays danced in celebration behind the pitcher’s mound.
“Just watching them celebrate on the field — it sucks to watch — but a team like that with that calibre of talent to be able to grind out in this type of division, good for them,” Biggio said. “It was cool to watch.
“But that’s something we want to be doing in a couple of years.”
Montoyo remarked the key to the Rays success had been excellent pitching and defence this year, and starter Tyler Glasnow fit the bill on Friday.
Coming off a lengthy stint on the injured list with a right forearm strain, he continued to make progress in his comeback bid with 4 1/3 innings of a hitless outing. It was his fourth start since his injury. He struck out four and retired the final eight batters he faced in his 66-pitch outing.
Tommy Pham put the Rays in front 2-0 with his 21st homer. Joey Wendle led off the third inning with a single to right field. Pham then crushed the first pitch from Toronto starter T.J. Zeuch (1-2) over the Blue Jays bullpen in left field.
The Rays increased their lead to 3-0 in the fourth inning. Nate Lowe led off with a walk and advanced to second on Avisail Garcia’s slow ground-ball out to third base. Willy Adames cashed in Lowe with a single to centre field.
Zeuch lasted five innings and was responsible for three runs and four hits.
The Blue Jays didn’t get a hit until Glasnow left the game. Outfielder Teoscar Hernandez greeted Tampa Bay reliever Colin Poche with a one-out double down the left-field line.
The Blue Jays finally busted out for a couple of runs in the seventh inning thanks to Hernandez’s two-run shot to right field with McGuire aboard. The homer was Hernandez’s 24th in 2019.
Austin Meadows added another run with a solo blast, his 33rd, to lead off the ninth.