Taking their playoff fate down to the last game of the regular season is nothing new for the Tampa Bay Rays.
After dropping the first two in Toronto, the Rays remain eager for the chance to potentially earn an AL wild-card berth with a victory over the Blue Jays on Sunday.
Tampa Bay (90-71) carried a seven-game winning streak and owned a one-game lead in the wild-card race heading to Toronto, but it's been outscored 13-5 in the first two of the set. That's allowed streaking Cleveland to move one-game ahead of the Rays for the overall wild-card lead and surging Texas to tie them for the second spot.
Tampa Bay has been in control of at least one playoff spot since July 7, but a loss in the finale could dash its postseason dreams. The Rays, though, are still in control of their postseason destiny.
If Cleveland beats Minnesota, and Tampa Bay and Texas remain tied after Sunday's games, the Rays and Rangers would meet in a one-game playoff for the second wild-card spot Monday in Arlington. Should the Rays win Sunday, and Indians and Rangers both lose, Tampa Bay would host Cleveland in Wednesday's wild-card game based on a 4-2 regular-season record between the clubs.
If all three finish the regular season tied, the tiebreaking scenario would have the Indians hosting the Rays on Monday, with the winner earning one wild-card berth and the loser playing at Texas on Tuesday for the final spot.
"I'm excited for (Sunday)," said Rays star Evan Longoria, who is 1 for 8 in the set. "We like to make it interesting, that's for sure."
Tampa Bay won the wild card on the final day of the 2011 season when Longoria's 12th-inning homer beat the New York Yankees to cap a seven-run comeback. Boston's loss at Baltimore that night put the Rays into the postseason.
"We've been here before, we've been in these moments," manager Joe Maddon said after Saturday's 7-2 loss. "We never do things seemingly easily so let's just play (Sunday) and see what happens.
"I'm totally confident in our guys. I really believe that you're going to see the best side of (scheduled starter) Matt Moore (Sunday)."
Moore (16-4, 3.23 ERA) is 2-0 with a 2.45 ERA against the Blue Jays this season, and owns a 2.97 ERA in six career starts in the series.
After yielding six runs in four innings of an 8-2 loss to Texas on Sept. 19, the left-hander allowed three hits and overcame six walks and three wild-pitches to last five in a 7-0 win at Yankee Stadium on Tuesday.
"You cannot be more effectively wild than he was," Maddon said.
The Rays have hit .197 in the first two games at Toronto (74-87), and could face a stiff test against St. Petersburg, Fla. native Todd Redmond (4-2, 3.77) on Sunday.
"We have a chance to knock them out,'' said Redmond, whose parents were once Rays season-ticket holders. "That's baseball. Hopefully we can pull it off.''
Redmond, who allowed a homer to Longoria in six innings of a 2-1, 10-inning loss at Tropicana Field on Aug. 18, is 3-0 with a 2.73 ERA in his last five starts overall. He's yielded two or fewer runs in each of the last three, most recently Tuesday when he gave up a pair of solo homers in 5 2-3 innings of a 3-2, 10-inning victory at Baltimore.
"I didn't have my best stuff compared to my last couple of outings, but I was able to battle," Redmond told the Blue Jays' official website. "That's part of pitching, you have to learn how to deal with the ups and downs."
With two hits and three RBIs on Saturday, Toronto's Adam Lind is 8 for 18 (.444) with six RBIs in his last five games versus Tampa Bay.
He's 1 for 7 with three strikeouts against Moore.