Tempers flare as Blue Jays drop series against Rays with blowout loss
Benches clear in 8th after Tampa's Kiermaier, who took Toronto data card, hit by pitch
Hit by a pitch in what appeared to be retribution for scooping up a Toronto scouting report, Kevin Kiermaier hopes to see the Blue Jays in the playoffs.
"Oh yeah, it was intentional," Kiermaier said of reliever Ryan Borucki, who hit him with his first pitch in the eighth inning of the Rays' 7-1 victory Wednesday, which clinched a postseason berth.
"Pretty much almost went behind me," Kiermaier said. "I thought it was a weak move, to be quite honest. It's over. It's didn't hurt by any means, so I don't care. Whatever. We move on. We got a series win, and I hope we play those guys, I really do."
When asked why he wants to face Toronto again, Kiermaier replied: "The motivation is there. That's all that needs to be said."
On Monday, Kevin Kiermaier picked up a card with the Blue Jays game plan and the Rays reportedly refused to give it back.<br><br>Today, the Jays hit Kiermaier with a pitch and the benches cleared.<br><br>(via <a href="https://twitter.com/MLB?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@MLB</a>) <a href="https://t.co/FCfdgUJsTA">pic.twitter.com/FCfdgUJsTA</a>—@BleacherReport
Borucki was ejected after the umpires met, which prompted Blue Jays manager Charlie Montoyo and enraged pitching coach Pete Walker to storm out of the dugout to argue as played spilled onto the field. Walker also was tossed, and there were no incidents between the players.
Rays second baseman Brandon Lowe called the hit by pitch "kind of bush league,"while manger Kevin Cash was disappointed.
Montoyo said Kiermaier was not hit intentionally, maintaining he didn't want to use another pitcher in the one-sided game.
"Pete's reaction told me everything about it," Montoyo said. "He missed. He hit him, but I understand what it looks like. I understood how the Rays got upset about it. That thing was on for two days."
On Monday, Kiermaier picked up a scouting card that fell off the wristband of Blue Jays catcher Alejandro Kirk during a play at the plate and refused to give it back. Cash apologized to the Blue Jays organization Tuesday and Montoyo said the matter was "agua under the bridge."
The Blue Jays are not happy. <br> <br>Last night in the 6th, Kevin Kiermaier slid into home plate and grabbed a card (video here). That card, I'm told, was from Alejandro Kirk's wrist band that fell out on the tag. <br> <br>On the card: the Blue Jays' game plan on pitching to Rays' hitters. <a href="https://t.co/wjjuYd3Bhk">pic.twitter.com/wjjuYd3Bhk</a>—@ArashMadani
Austin Meadows hit a three-run homer during a six-run third inning for the AL East-leading Rays (94-59). The postseason berth was the third in a row and seventh since 2008 for the defending AL champions.
In the complicated math of MLB in the wild-card era, when magic numbers are not an exact formula due to head-to-head matchups among contenders to multiple beths, Cash unaware that the Rays could clinch until 45 minutes before first pitch. Lowe said he didn't realize it until the news flashed on the scoreboard at the end of the game, while Kiermaier was in the dark until seeing teammates wearing post-season "BUILT FOR OCTOBER" T-shirts leaving the dugout after the game.
Kiermaier and Cash spoke briefly during a clubhouse celebration that featured a bubbly toast.
"We don't stop here," Tampa Bay area native and Rays outfielder Brett Phillips said. "We have bigger aspirations. We want more."
Tampa Bay lost to the Los Angeles Dodgers in six games in last year's World Series.
"We watched the Dodgers run out onto the field." Lowe said. "I think everybody in that locker room knew right then and there that we belonged here, we can be here next year. We had one main goal, it's to be in the position we were last year with a different outcome."
Toronto (85-67) dropped into a tie for the second AL wild-card berth with the New York Yankees, who played later Wednesday. The Blue Jays lost two of three to Tampa Bay and are 16-5 in September.
Six Tampa Bay pitchers combined on a four-hitter. JT Chargois (6-1) struck out two during a hitless fourth.
The Rays loaded the bases with no outs in the third against Ross Stripling (5-7) before Yandy Diaz had a sacrifice fly and Meadows followed with his 26th homer. Taylor Walls added a two-run single that made it 6-0.