TORONTO -- The Blue Jays swatted a trio of solo homers in support of R.A. Dickey's 100th career win in a 5-3 victory over the Rays at Rogers Centre on Friday. Josh Donaldson, Kevin Pillar and Jose Bautista each went yard in the series opener as the Blue Jays increased their lead in the American League East to four games over the Yankees, who lost to the White Sox.
The Blue Jays' magic number to clinch a division title is now six, but the team did clinch its first postseason berth since 1993.
Based on the standings, the Blue Jays would clinch a playoff berth with a win over the Rays or an Angels loss to Seattle. But based on the remaining schedules for the Halos, Astros and Rangers, only two of the three AL West contenders can finish 88-74. (The Angels and Texas currently have 74 losses, the same as Toronto.) If that result were to happen, one AL West team would win the division, another would win an AL Wild Card spot, and the third would be eliminated with at least 75 losses. Toronto is thus guaranteed of at least an AL Wild Card berth.
"It's been a tough year for me," said Dickey of his milestone win. "Losing my dad. To celebrate this at home, in my 100th start for the Blue Jays, is really poetic."
Dickey continued his streak of stellar starts in the season's second half, going seven strong innings while allowing two earned runs on four hits with no walks. The 40-year-old knuckleballer improved his record to 8-1 since the All-Star break while recording his first win over the Rays in five tries this season. Dickey pushed through a rough two-run first frame to toss six scoreless before he was lifted in favor of Mark Lowe.
The Rays immediately took Lowe deep with a solo shot from J.P. Arencibia to start the eighth to make it a two-run game, but that was as close as they would come as their three-game winning streak came to an end. Jake Odorizzi took the loss for Tampa Bay. The right-hander lasted five innings and gave up seven hits and four earned runs with three walks.
Roberto Osuna pitched a scoreless ninth to record his 18th save of the season, the most by an AL rookie since Addison Reed had 29 for the White Sox in 2012.
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED Bringer of Rain: Donaldson knocked his 40th homer of the season, a solo shot, over the wall in center field in the bottom of the third to tie the game at 2. In doing so, he became the ninth Blue Jays player to hit at least 40 homers in a season and third to record 40 homers and 40 doubles in a season, joining Carlos Delgado (2000) and Shawn Green (1999). More >
"We knew he was good, I didn't know he was this good," Blue Jays manager John Gibbons said. "He's had a huge year, MVP-type year. He was in a bit of rut, for him anyway, and that 40th is a good solid number, instead of sitting on 39."
Gut check for Odorizzi: Odorizzi appeared to be on the ropes in the fourth. The right-hander's pitch count drew close to 100 pitches, the Blue Jays had already scored twice in the inning and he had two runners on base with one out. But he retired Bautista and Edwin Encarnacion on popouts. Odorizzi then returned in the fifth to retire the Blue Jays in order. Not a quality start, but a gutsy one that kept the Rays in the game.
"To his credit, he kept it right there with four runs," Rays manager Kevin Cash said. "They could have easily capitalized and gotten a couple more off of him. So he did a nice job holding it right there, giving us an opportunity to get back."
Bautista bomb: Bautista provided some insurance in the seventh when he went yard with his 37th homer of the year. Bautista took a 2-2 breaking ball from Rays reliever Kirby Yates and went deep to left-center to make it a 5-2 game. The ball left Bautista's bat at 106 mph and was projected to travel 416 feet, according to Statcast™.
For old time's sake: Arencibia played four seasons with the Blue Jays and hit 64 home runs during 380 games wearing a Toronto uniform. That held little sentimental value when he homered on the first pitch he saw from Lowe when he led off the eighth. A crowd that was energetic all night serenaded Arencibia with boos as he rounded the bases. The blast cut the lead to two runs, giving Arencibia six home runs in 22 games with the Rays. More >
"They were loud. Good for Toronto, they're supporting their team as if they have a whole country supporting their team, which is pretty unique and I'm sure it's special for all those guys over there." -- Cash, on the Blue Jays' fans
"It's something special, especially given what he's been through in his career." -- Blue Jays catcher Josh Thole, on Dickey's 100th career win
SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS Evan Longoria has reached base in 14 consecutive road games after hitting a single in the first inning.
The Blue Jays have 217 home runs this season, marking the fourth-most in club history. They hit 257 in 2010, 244 in 2000 and 221 in 1998.
Donaldson thought he might have his second homer of the night in the fourth when he crushed an Odorizzi offering to the fifth deck, but it landed on the wrong side of the foul pole. Gibbons asked for a challenge, and after a crew chief review, the call on the field was confirmed.
WHAT'S NEXT Rays:Chris Archer (12-12, 2.92 ERA) will make his 33rd start of the season as the series continues on Saturday at 1:07 p.m. ET. On Monday, Archer got a no-decision at Fenway Park, allowing one run over five innings. The right-hander has been known to rise to the occasion against elite pitchers. Archer, who will be matching up with former teammate David Price, is 2-1 with a 1.15 ERA in eight career starts against former Cy Young Award winners.
Blue Jays: Price (17-5, 2.34 ERA) will take the mound against his former team on Saturday. Price has allowed two earned runs or fewer in four straight starts and in 19 of his last 23 outings. He allowed two hits to the Yankees during his last start, which was the fewest he'd allowed since Aug. 21, 2014, at Tropicana Field.