Toronto 5, Tampa Bay 4
When: 1:07 PM ET, Sunday, September 27, 2015
Where: Rogers Centre, Toronto, Ontario
Fieldin Culbreth, 1B -
Paul Schrieber, 2B -
Mark Wegner, 3B -
TORONTO -- It was a fitting way to end the Toronto Blue Jays' final home game or the regular season.
Third baseman Josh Donaldson, a strong MVP candidate, hit his 41st homer of the season against right-hander with two out in the ninth inning to give the Blue Jays a comeback 5-4 victory over the Tampa Bay Rays.
The three-game sweep over the Rays (75-81) gave the Blue Jays (90-65) a four-game winning streak and kept them on target to clinch the American League East, which they lead by four games over the New York Yankees.
"I think it was the perfect ending for Fan Appreciation Day on the last day of the regular season," Blue Jays manager John Gibbons said. "He's had a tremendous year, like some of the guys in that room."
"It's always tough anytime you go out there and give the game up and let your team down," said Rays right-hander Steve Geltz (2-6), who allowed Donaldson's third walk-off homer of the season. "The first pitch was a slider that kind of backed up and he swung right through it. The next one was a slider that just hung, right down the middle."
Blue Jays left-hander Brett Cecil (4-5) pitched the ninth to earn the win.
First baseman Justin Smoak drove in three runs for the Blue Jays with a double and a two-run homer in a three-hit game. He also singled to set up the game-tying double by center fielder Kevin Pillar in the eighth.
Center fielder Mikie Mahtook hit a two-run homer for the Rays.
Blue Jays left-hander Mark Buehrle allowed five hits, one walk and four runs while striking out five in six innings and did not factor in the decision.
Rays right-hander Matt Andriese allowed three hits, one walk and one run in three innings in his first start for the Rays since July 7. His outing was shortened because he has been used in relief since being recalled from Triple-A Durham on Aug. 19.
"I think Matt Andriese, given his recent lack of work, competed really well," Rays manager Kevin Cash said.
"If you look back at how the game got to be tied at 4-4, there were walks in there that allowed for lineup turnover. It allowed those guys to get back to the plate probably more times than they should have."
The Rays used eight pitchers in the game.
The Rays scored once in the first when left fielder Brandon Guyer led off with a triple and came home on a two-out single by designated hitter Logan Forsythe.
The Blue Jays answered with a run in their first when Donaldson walked, designated hitter Edwin Encarnacion singled and Smoak hit a ground-rule double.
Tampa Bay regained the lead in the third after Guyer was hit by a pitch and Mahtook followed with his sixth homer of the season.
Singles by right fielder Steven Souza Jr. and second baseman Tim Beckham and a sacrifice fly by first baseman Richie Shaffer increased the Tampa Bay lead to 4-1 in the fourth.
Smoak hit his 17th homer of the season on a 3-2 pitch from right-hander Brandon Gomes in the sixth after Encarnacion walked with one out.
Smoak singled with one out in the eighth against right-hander Alex Colome. Outfielder Dalton Pompey ran for him. Pompey stole second with two out and scored on Pillar's double to tie the game.
The Rays threatened in the top of the eighth. Mahtook hit an infield single, took second on a throwing error by shortstop Cliff Pennington and stole third.
But Donaldson tagged Mahtook out as he tried to return to third on third baseman's Evan Longoria's grounder to third for the first out of the inning.
"At that point of the game I thought he would be going on contact anyhow no matter where it's hit because he's really fast," Donaldson said. "Once I first saw the ball was hit, out of my peripheral vision, I saw him take a couple of steps. I was ready to throw it home and when he broke back to third I knew I had an opportunity to make the tag, I knew it was a big play with nobody out. So I took the chance and was able to make the play."
"Mikie's done a tremendous job since he's been up here," Cash said. "He's a young player. He's aggressive. Right there he got just a little carried away. We like what he's done, and you'd much rather have it that way."
The Blue Jays are in the postseason for the first time since 1993, so this final regular season game of the season had a different feeling.
"Usually it's kind of a sad day," Gibbons said. "The season is over and you're going to go home. This year it's a totally different feeling. It's exciting. It drives you."
NOTES: The Rays were facing a left-handed starter for the 12th time in 20 games Sunday in Blue Jays LHP Mark Buehrle. ... The Rays started INF Richie Shaffer at first base and OF Mikie Mahtook in center field Sunday to get more right-handed bats into the lineup against Buehrle. ... The Rays have Monday off before opening a three-game series against the Miami Marlins on Tuesday at Tropicana Field. LHP Matt Moore (2-4, 6.48 ERA) will start for the Rays. A starter had not been named for Miami. ... The Blue Jays open a four-game series against the Baltimore Orioles on Monday at Camden Yards. RHP Marco Estrada (13-8, 3.13 ERA) will start for Toronto against Baltimore RHP (Chris Tillman, 10-11, 5.16 ERA).
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