Myers, Rays force one-game playoff vs. Rangers
Two familiar playoff foes will play a 163rd game to decide the second AL wild-card berth.
Evan Longoria and the Tampa Bay Rays assured themselves a tie for a wild-card berth, scoring six runs in the first inning and then holding off the Toronto Blue Jays 7-6 Sunday.
Thomasville native Wil Myers went 2 for 4 with two doubles, an RBI and a run for the Rays, who headed for a tiebreaker Monday night at the Texas Rangers (8 p.m., TBS), who beat the Los Angeles Angels on Sunday to finish 162 games even with the Rays at 91-71. The winner advances to Wednesday’s wild-card playoff at Cleveland (92-70), which determines the team opening the division series at Boston two days later.
Texas beat the Rays in the division series in 2010 and 2011.
“We have something to prove in Texas,” Longoria said. “We’ve left that place too many times with our heads down and disappointed. I feel like now is the time to be able to turn that page.”
The Rays will give the ball to left-hander David Price (9-8), and Texas starts left-hander Martin Perez (10-5).
Price called it the kind of situation he dreamed about as a little kid.
“Hands down my biggest game of this year, night and day bigger than opening day,” he said. “This is a moment that I want to be in. I want to be able to relish this moment and go out there and have fun.”
Longoria said the Rays are confident knowing they’ll play behind the reigning AL Cy Young Award winner.
“You can’t not feel good about it,” Longoria said. “He’s the guy that I think everybody in this room looks to when we need somebody to go out and give us a great performance.”
Rays manager Joe Maddon was equally confident.
“I love it, I absolutely love it,” he said of Price. “I know he’s motivated.”
Texas will have Nelson Cruz active tonight. The All-Star outfielder on Sunday completed a 50-game suspension from Major League Baseball that followed its investigation of the Biogenesis anti-aging clinic, which was accused of distributing banned performance-enhancing drugs.
Maddon was ejected in the seventh, and the Blue Jays had the go-ahead run at the plate in the eighth and ninth innings. Fernando Rodney got for four shaky outs for his 37th save in 45 chances.
“I’ve never been a part of anything like that,” Myers said. “Emotions were going up and down the whole game.”
MARLINS’ ALVAREZ THROWS ODD NO-HITTER
MIAMI — With the bases loaded, two outs and the score 0-0 in the bottom of the ninth, Henderson Alvarez stood in the Miami Marlins’ on-deck circle, bat in hand, hoping to complete his no-hitter.
Alvarez had blanked the Detroit Tigers for nine innings — and briefly, mistakenly thought he had pitched a no-hitter. But the Marlins needed a run for him to achieve the feat.
“I was nervous and anxious,” he said through a translator. “I started praying, ‘Please give us a run.’ I was hoping for a wild pitch.”
That’s exactly how Miami scored. Giancarlo Stanton crossed the plate standing up when a breaking ball skipped to the backstop, and Alvarez had his no-hitter, beating the Tigers on the final day of the regular season Sunday, 1-0.
Of the 282 no-hitters in history, it was the only one to end on a wild pitch, STATS said. And it was the first walk-off complete-game no-hitter since Virgil Trucks of the Tigers threw one on May 15, 1952 against Washington.
Alvarez (5-6) struck out four, walked one and hit a batter against a patchwork Tigers lineup on the last day of the season. When he closed out the top of the ninth, he pumped one fist and then both, thinking the game was over.
BRAVES ROLL, BUT CARDS WRAP UP NL HOMEFIELD EDGE
ATLANTA — Evan Gattis had a two-run homer among his three hits, Elliot Johnson drove in five runs and the NL East champion Atlanta Braves beat the Philadelphia Phillies 12-5 on Sunday, completing the regular season with their most wins in nine years.
The Braves won their first division title since 2005. They will have home-field advantage against the Dodgers in the NL division series, which begins Thursday at Turner Field. Atlanta (96-66) finished with its best record since also winning 96 games in 2004. After the victory, players gathered for a photo around a 2013 banner that was placed on a stand in front of the mound.
The Braves needed St. Louis to lose for a shot a home-field advantage throughout the NL playoffs. But the Cardinals beat the Cubs 4-0 to lock up the top spot.
INDIANS CLINCH AL WILD CARD HOME GAME
MINNEAPOLIS — The surging Cleveland Indians earned their first postseason berth since 2007, beating the Minnesota Twins 5-1 Sunday to clinch an AL wild card as Ubaldo Jimenez tied a career high with 13 strikeouts.
Nick Swisher homered in the first inning for the Indians, who became the first major league team to win its final 10 regular-season games since the 1971 Baltimore Orioles finished with 11 straight victories, according to STATS. Cleveland will host Tampa Bay or Texas in the one-game AL wild card playoff on Wednesday night.