Tampa Bay at Kansas City

Tampa Bay
Kansas City
W: C. Qualls (3-4) L: K. Davies (8-12)
HR: TB - C. Crawford (19)   KC - None

Rays blank Royals, push AL East race to final day

CBSSports.com wire reports

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Sometimes, Joe Maddon wishes he wasn't so farsighted.

All season long as Tampa Bay, New York and Boston slugged it out in the AL East, the Rays' manager said it would probably come down to the final day of the season.

And now it has.

Matt Joyce hit a two-run triple and eight pitchers combined on a shutout as Tampa Bay beat the Kansas City Royals 4-0 Saturday night, ensuring that the AL East race won't be decided until Sunday.

Postseason Chase

"I didn't necessarily want it to be that," Maddon said. "I'd prefer having the division won. But that's how it's going. We'll see what happens."

After the Yankees split a day-night doubleheader in Boston, with both games going 10 innings, Tampa Bay and New York ended the day tied for first place at 95-66. Both teams already clinched playoff spots.

At stake, however, is more than just the division title. The winner gets home-field advantage throughout the AL playoffs.

"I want to throw at home. Hands down, for sure," said Rays ace David Price, who got a tuneup inning Saturday night and could start Game 1 on Wednesday. "We all do. We want to win the AL East and have home-field advantage."

If the Rays and Yankees finish the regular season in a tie, Tampa Bay is the division winner because it won the head-to-head season series 10-8. The Yankees would get the wild card.

If the Rays win their second AL East title since 2008, they will start the best-of-five division series at home Wednesday against Texas. If the Yankees win the division, the Rays will travel from Kansas City to Minnesota on Sunday night and play the AL Central champion Twins beginning Wednesday.

"To be in this situation, I don't think we'd have it any other way," said Joyce, whose triple gave the Rays a 2-0 lead in the first. "Obviously, we would probably want to win the division earlier, but we're not complaining. We know we've got a great team and we know what we have to do tomorrow."

It's the sixth time since divisional play began 41 years ago that the top two teams in the AL East were separated by a game or less heading into the final two days.

The win went to Chad Qualls (2-0), who threw only two pitches and got Josh Fields to ground into an inning-ending double play in the third.

The loss guaranteed Kansas City's sixth last-place finish in the AL Central in 10 years.

"We've got enough talent right now to compete," manager Ned Yost said. "But we need more talent to win. We're in those games, but we struggle to win them. A little more talent and that turns the talent a little bit for us. We just need more talent to consistently win ballgames."

Trailing 3-0, the Royals loaded the bases with nobody out in the third on Gregor Blanco's single, Mike Aviles' double and a hit batter. After starter Andy Sonnanstine struck out Kila Ka'aihue, Qualls got Fields to ground into a double play.

B.J. Upton and Carl Crawford singled off Kyle Davies (8-12) in the first inning and scored on Joyce's triple. Crawford hit his career-best 19th home run off Davies with two outs in the third and Upton made it 4-0 with a sacrifice fly in the fifth.

Davies went 5 2/3 innings and ended his year giving up four runs on six hits.

Sonnanstine went 2 1/3 innings and gave up five hits.

  • The Rays will finish the season with a winning record against every AL team but the Royals.
  • Tickets for the Rays' first two home games of the AL division series are sold out.
  • The Royals picked up their $6 million option for 2011 on outfielder David DeJesus.
  • The walk-up attendance of 6,124 was KC's second-largest of the year.
Copyright 2017 by STATS LLC and The Associated Press. Any commercial use or distribution without the express written consent of STATS LLC and The Associated Press is strictly prohibited.
CBSSports Facebook Google Plus
Conversation powered by Livefyre
Matt Joyce comes up with a two-run triple as the Rays won't make it easy for the Yankees to clinch the AL East. (AP)
Matt Joyce comes up with a two-run triple as the Rays won't make it easy for the Yankees to clinch the AL East. (AP)

Players of the Game
Tampa Bay

C. Crawford
AB 4
R 2
H 2
HR 1
Tampa Bay

M. Joyce
AB 4
R 0
H 1
HR 0

Related Video

February 24, 2017
2017 AL East Preview: Tampa Bay Rays (2:33)
Tampa Bay Rays
John Jaso, C4000001 .263
    Dioner Navarro, C0000000 .197
B.J. Upton, CF3111010 .239
Carl Crawford, LF4221010 .308
Dan Johnson, 3B2000112 .196
    Reid Brignac, 2B0000100 .259
Matt Joyce, RF4012001 .237
Carlos Pena, 1B4010011 .195
Brad Hawpe, DH3000120 .245
Sean Rodriguez, 2B-3B3000110 .251
Jason Bartlett, SS4110013 .254
2B - Carlos Pena (17, Davies), Jason Bartlett (27, Davies)
3B - Matt Joyce (3, Davies)
HR - Carl Crawford (19, Davies)
SF - B.J. Upton (4)
RBI - B.J. Upton (62), Carl Crawford (90), Matt Joyce 2 (40)
2-OUT RBI - Carl Crawford (28), Matt Joyce 2 (28)
SB - Carl Crawford (47, 2nd base off Davies/B. Pena)
Team LOB - 5
DP - S. Rodriguez-Bartlett-Pena, Bartlett-Brignac-Pena
Tampa Bay Rays
Andy Sonnanstine 2.1500010 4.44
Chad Qualls (W,3-4) 0.2000000 7.45
Jeremy Hellickson 1100100 3.47
David Price 1000010 2.72
Jake McGee 0.2100010 1.80
Grant Balfour 1.1000020 2.28
Joaquin Benoit 1100010 1.37
Randy Choate 1000110 4.26
HBP - Butler (by Andy Sonnanstine)
Pitches-Strikes - Andy Sonnanstine 39-25, Chad Qualls 2-1, Jeremy Hellickson 16-10, David Price 13-11, Jake McGee 12-10, Grant Balfour 17-13, Joaquin Benoit 20-14, Randy Choate 17-10
Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Andy Sonnanstine 4-2, Chad Qualls 1-0, Jeremy Hellickson 1-1, Joaquin Benoit 1-1, Randy Choate 1-0
Batters Faced - Andy Sonnanstine 13, Chad Qualls 1, Jeremy Hellickson 4, David Price 3, Jake McGee 3, Grant Balfour 4, Joaquin Benoit 4, Randy Choate 3
Kansas City Royals
Gregor Blanco, RF4010010 .280
Mike Aviles, 2B4010010 .305
Billy Butler, DH3020000 .320
Kila Ka'aihue, 1B4010024 .220
Josh Fields, 3B4000014 .306
Mitch Maier, LF4020010 .260
Yuniesky Betancourt, SS3010102 .260
Brayan Pena, C3000103 .261
Jarrod Dyson, CF3000012 .226
2B - Mike Aviles (16, Sonnanstine), Billy Butler (45, Benoit)
Team LOB - 8
DP - Ka'aihue
Kansas City Royals
Kyle Davies (L,8-12) 5.2644341 5.34
Jesse Chavez 1000010 5.89
Dusty Hughes 1.2000110 3.95
Greg Holland 0.2000020 6.87
Pitches-Strikes - Kyle Davies 99-57, Jesse Chavez 9-5, Dusty Hughes 26-15, Greg Holland 7-6
Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Kyle Davies 7-6
Batters Faced - Kyle Davies 26, Jesse Chavez 3, Dusty Hughes 5, Greg Holland 2
Game Information
Attendance - 32484
Game Time - 2:52
Temperature - 60
Umpires - Home - Laz Diaz, First Base - Wally Bell, Second Base - John Hirschbeck, Third Base - James Hoye