The American League East championship isn’t going anywhere, as following the Boston Red Sox loss at home to the New York Yankees, the Tampa Bay Rays used a two-run homer by Mike Zunino to break a 1-1 tie and go on to defeat the Miami Marlins 7-3 and earn their second consecutive division title Saturday night at Tropicana Field.
Despite allowing six hits and a walk in five innings of work, that would be the only run allowed by the left-hander, as he went on to earn his tenth win of the season, tying Josh Fleming for the team lead.
Miami pulled again within a run in the top of the sixth, loading the bases against reliever Collin McHugh but only scoring on a fielder’s choice groundout by Eddy Alvarez, and the Rays immediately countered in the bottom of the inning, as Wendle reached on an infield single and took second on an Alvarez error, then scored on a base hit by Yandy Diaz.
A RBI single by Bryan De La Cruz in the seventh again inched the Marlins closer to tying the game, but Brandon Lowe‘s RBI double in the bottom of the seventh scored Zunino from first base to make it 5-3, and Tampa Bay added two more in the eighth on a sacrifice fly by Phillips and another run-scoring double by Lowe, his third two-base hit and fourth hit overall in the game, setting the score at 7-3.
Tampa Bay has not yet clinched the best record in the American League and home field advantage throughout the American League playoffs. The magic number to secure that away from the Houston Astros is three.
The Rays can finish the weekend with a sweep of the Marlins by taking Sunday afternoon’s finale, as Shane Baz (1-0, 3.60 ERA) will make his second career start, taking on Jesus Luzardo (5-8, 7.01 ERA). First pitch is scheduled for 1:10.