Skip to main content
baseball

Toronto Blue Jays right fielder Jose Bautista (19) reacts with third base coach Luis Rivera after hitting a home run against the Tampa Bay Rays in the eighth inning at Rogers Centre. Jays beat Rays 10 - 8.Peter Llewellyn

The Toronto Blue Jays woke up Saturday morning in a dazed and confused state, and it had nothing to do with partaking in any wild celebration the night before.

As far as the Blue Jays were concerned, there had been nothing to celebrate.

After defeating the Tampa Bay Rays on Friday night at Rogers Centre, the players packed up and went home seemingly secure in the knowledge that their quest to make the post season for the first time in 22 years would likely have to wait another day.

Turns out they were wrong, most everybody was wrong.

Were it not for some enterprising baseball fan with a Twitter account, probably a slide ruler and way too much time on his hands, the baseball world might still not know the Blue Jays had indeed advanced.

Even Toronto manager John Gibbons professed he did not realize that his team had clinched, at the very least, one of the American League wild card playoff spots until he arrived at Rogers Centre Saturday morning to prepare the upcoming game against the Rays.

"Thank God for mathematicians I guess," Gibbons told reporters before the Tampa game. "It was kind of an odd way to find out this morning. It's nice. It's a good feeling. It's been a long time here. But I'm proud of the guys, they've had a tremendous year.

"But we're not satisfied with that. We have our sights set on bigger and better things."

The Blue Jays primary goal is still to win the A.L. East where they now hold a 4 ½-game lead over the New York Yankees pending the outcome of the Yankees-Chicago White Sox game Saturday night.

The Blue Jays administered a 10-8 victory over the Rays on Saturday, a sloppy contest in which Toronto committed three errors but still prevailed, largely behind the big bat of Jose Bautista, who stroked two home runs.

And the Blue Jays, deprived of their clubhouse celebration some 18 hours earlier because of the mix-up, more than made up for it after disposing of the Rays for the second straight day.

Although the Blue Jays had maintained that they wouldn't be partying hearty once they clinched, the clubhouse on Saturday resembled more of a frat house when reporters finally got in after the game.

The champagne was flowing like water – and some of it was even being swallowed– as the players jumped around like 10-year-old boys at a birthday party.

Outfitted in blue T-shirts that proclaimed "Take October", the players took turns dousing themselves in alcohol while trying to smoke big, fat cigars during all the mayhem.

Bautista, who earlier in the day wasn't even ready to accept the fact that his team had clinched, cut quite the site.

He was soaked from head to foot and wearing swim goggles to protect against the sting of the champagne spray.

On his baseball cap Bautista had affixed a mini video camera attached to the bill and was recording all the goings-on, presumably so he could recall exactly what transpired the next day if his memory was fuzzy.

"We had a little talk before the game that we weren't going to do this, do a big celebration," Bautista said. "Even though getting into the playoffs means a whole lot, especially for our fan base which has been waiting for so long. We want to win the division and that's still the goal.

"But we just got in here and everybody, the emotion, the excitement, everything took over. And we just started celebrating. I don't know where they were hiding he champagne but somebody went and got it and it got a little crazy."

Kevin Pillar, who drove in two of the runs in Saturday's victory, agreed that the party was unexpected.

"We didn't know we were going to do this, man," Pillar said. "It's been a long time for this franchise to get back to the post season. It's worth some sort of celebration.

"If you think this is crazy wait till we clinch the division."

After Friday's win over the Rays, it appeared the Blue Jays still required a loss by both the Minnesota Twins and the Los Angeles Angels that night to clinch a playoff spot. The Twins lost but the Angels won. But no one – not the Blue Jays or MLB – factored in games still to be played between other A.L. wild-card contenders, impacting the Blue Jays standing.

So while Toronto's magic number remained at one heading into Saturday's game, they had already clinched. That one loss by the teams competing for the wild card is guaranteed because of the remaining games between the three A.L. West contenders – the Texas Rangers, Houston Astros and the Angels.

And while the celebration might have been delayed by a day, it was not any less meaningful.

"Any time you put yourself in the post season like these guys have you've gotta celebrate," said Toronto pitcher David Price.