The Blue Jays’ playoff hopes were dashed a long, long time ago, but they’re happy to play spoiler as the end of the regular season draws near. On Thursday evening, the Jays trailed the Rays 8-2 entering the bottom of the ninth inning. They proceeded to put up a seven-spot to walk off 9-8 winners, handing the Rays a devastating loss in the midst of their quest to reach the postseason.
Dwight Smith started things off with a leadoff double against Jaime Schultz. Rowdy Tellez followed up by doubling him in. Jonathan Davis was hit by a pitch and then, after Reese McGuire struck out, Danny Jansen hit a three-run homer to left field. Enter Sergio Romo. Romo struck out Richard Ureña, but then allowed a single to Kendrys Morales, a two-run homer to Lourdes Gurriel, then a walk-off solo homer to Justin Smoak.
According to FanGraphs, the Jays had a 0.4 percent chance of winning entering the bottom of the ninth inning. Their probability rose to a measly 4.8 percent after Morales singled. Gurriel’s homer made it 53.8 percent, an increase of a whopping 49 percent.
After the awful loss, the Rays fall to 6.5 games behind the Athletics — who won 21-3 over the Angels earlier — for the second Wild Card in the American League. They have 10 games remaining.
The Royals are in agreement with right-handed reliever Drew Storen on a minor league deal, the team announced Friday. Per Jon Heyman of MLB Network, the deal is worth $1.25 million if the veteran righty breaks camp with the club this spring. Additional, albeit unspecified incentives will be included in the contract as well.
Storen, 31, is coming off of a protracted absence from any MLB duties. After inking a one-year deal with the Reds in 2017, he sustained a right elbow sprain toward the end of the year and underwent Tommy John surgery that October. He was effectively decommissioned for the club’s entire 2018 run and generated little interest around the league this winter, perhaps due in part to the uninspired 4.45 ERA, 3.8 BB/9, 7.9 SO/9, and career-low -0.2 fWAR he posted across 54 2/3 innings during his last healthy season.
While it’s not immediately clear what kind of performance the Royals can expect from Storen in spring training, they’re not exactly in a position to be choosy. Their bullpen ranked dead last among all MLB teams with a collective 5.04 ERA, 4.85 FIP, and -2.2 fWAR last year, and still appears to be in a state of flux as they approach Opening Day. Skipper Ned Yost told reporters Wednesday that he intends to eschew the traditional closer appointment in 2019 and will instead utilize a combination of right-handers Wily Peralta and Brad Boxberger, lefty Tim Hill, and various others as he tackles high-leverage situations in the future.