The Toronto Blue Jays are playoff-bound for the second year in a row after a 2-1 win over the Boston Red Sox in the final game of the regular season.
Toronto will host the Baltimore Orioles at the Rogers Centre on Tuesday after the Detroit Tigers were eliminated by the Atlanta Braves.
Aaron Sanchez had the most important outing of his career in the biggest moment, throwing seven innings of two-hit ball and allowing just one earned run. The dominant right-hander lowered his season ERA to an even 3.00 and struck out six batters on 97 pitches (62 strikes).
Sanchez held the Red Sox hitless until the bottom of the seventh. Hanley Ramirez wrapped a solo home run, his 30th of the season, around the foul pole on the Green Monster to break up the no-hitter eight outs from the finish line.
Devon Travis got Toronto started with a solo home run in the top of the fifth, a lob-wedge shot down the left-field line to open up a 1-0 lead from the pitcher’s duel. It was Travis’ 11th home run of the season and his first since August 6th.
Troy Tulowitzki was responsible for the go-ahead RBI, driving in Russell Martin from third with a flared single into centre field. It looked as if that eighth inning would be another wasted opportunity prior to Tulowitzki’s hit as Jose Bautista failed to capitalize with runners on first and second with nobody out. Bautista chopped a ground ball to third-baseman Brock Holt, who quickly stepped on the bag for the force out and threw across to first for the double-play.
Brett Cecil was first out of the bullpen for the Blue Jays and surrendered a single to Chris Young, who eventually stole second base on a strike three call to Andrew Benintendi. Joe Biagini then entered with one out, forcing a weak ground ball out thanks to a brilliant throw across the diamond from Donaldson. He closed out the inning with a swinging strikeout of Holt.
Roberto Osuna took the mound for the ninth inning after throwing two innings on 26 pitches the night before. The Jays closer allowed a walk and a single before recording the final out in dramatic fashion.
David Price, who was not scheduled to pitch a full outing for the Red Sox in preparation for the playoffs, left the game after five innings and 80 pitches.
It looked like the Blue Jays were going to break through against Price in the second inning as Troy Tulowitzki launched a double high off the Green Monster. Jose Bautista attempted to score from first base but a strong relay from Jackie Bradley Jr. to Xander Bogaerts and Sandy Leon arrived in plenty of time for the tag.
Prior to the game the Red Sox honoured David Ortiz, who will be retiring at the end of the season. The ceremony featured everyone from past World Series teammates to Mary J. Blige and the President of the Dominican Republic Danilo Medina, who threw out the first pitch to Ortiz.