It was party time at the Rogers Centre from the get-go Saturday as another sellout Toronto crowd celebrated the Blue Jays' return to the playoffs.
The Jays waited until after their 10-8 win over Tampa to let off some steam, showing they can work and play hard.
What had looked to be a pitching duel between Toronto's David Price and Tampa's Chris Archer turned into a shootoot with 14 runs and 16 hits in the first four innings alone. Toronto eventually needed three home runs and eight pitchers to stave off the Rays and secure its 89th win of the season.
'Any time you put yourself in the post-season like these guys have, you've got to celebrate it.' - Blue Jays ace pitcher David Price
The wild game had a bit of everything. As did the celebrations that followed the game in the wake of confirmation that Toronto had indeed assured itself of at least a wild-card berth in the post-season.
Beer and champagne flowed and cigar smoke billowed as the Toronto players, many of whom said they would wait to celebrate bigger triumphs, let themselves go.
"Any time you put yourself in the post-season like these guys have, you've got to celebrate it," said Price.
Manager John Gibbons sipped from a small glass as he met the media after the game.
"I don't know what that cost," he said of the bubbly. "I'm sure it's good for a hangover though."
The 47,094 on hand, buoyed by overnight news that a 22-year playoff drought was over, were buzzing from the start under sunny skies, turning the stadium into a sea of white thanks to a rally towel giveaway.
Jose Bautista and Russell Martin homered as Toronto led 5-0 after the first, battering Archer — on his 27th birthday — in a 33-pitch inning. It looked to be a romp until the Rays rallied for four runs in the third inning.
In a groove
Bautista added a solo blast in the eighth. It was his 39th of the season and third in two days.
Roberto Osuna eventually cleaned up a sloppy ninth that saw three runs come in following a flubbed double play attempt that left Rays on first and second with no outs.
Archer (12-13) exited with two outs in the fourth, down 9-5 after throwing 100 pitches. He gave up nine runs on 10 hits with five walks and three strikeouts at a venue where his career earned-run average had been a stingy 1.66 in seven starts.
Price (18-5) didn't have a vintage performance either but outlasted his former Rays teammate in going five innings. He gave up four earned runs on six hits with six strikeouts and one walk in a 95-pitch outing.
It was his 32nd start of the season with his team 24-8 when he starts. The lanky left-hander, who came over from Detroit at the trade deadline, is now 9-1 as a Jay.
Toronto (89-65) won its third straight in raising its record to 36-14 since Aug. 1. The last time it won 88-plus games was in 1993 when it went 95-67 in winning a second straight World Series.
Tampa (75-80) lost for the second day in a row and ninth time in its last 15.
Toronto's magic number to win its division fell to five, with the Yankees playing the White Sox later in the day.
The Jays tied a franchise record for most five-run innings in a season at 27. Toronto leads the majors with 220 home runs, as well as most homers in the first inning with 33.
Kevin Kiermaier hit a solo homer for the Rays.
Osuna eventually cleaned up a sloppy ninth that saw three runs come in following a flubbed double play attempt that left Rays on first and second with no outs.