TORONTO - When Todd Redmond takes the mound on Sunday afternoon, he'll be looking to pitch the Blue Jays to a series sweep over the Rays and, depending on two out-of-town results, send his hometown team away without a playoff berth.
“That's fine. I'm okay with that,” said Redmond. “I'm going to go out there and treat it like any other start. It's the last game of the year and we have a chance to win a game. That's how I'm going to treat it.”
Redmond is a native of St. Petersburg, Florida. He grew up going to Devil Rays' games. He says he wasn't a fan of the team, they weren't a good team at the time, but he and his friends would descend upon Tropicana Field to watch baseball and seek out autographs.
A few of his pals got in touch with him on Saturday.
“I've had a few texts already,” said Redmond. “My buddy texted me earlier. He said that he's getting some people calling him saying to not do so good. But he told me to out there and beat them and send them home. That's what I'm going to try to do.”
Sunday's start, in the Jays' season finale, will be Redmond's 14th of the year. He's 4-1 with a 3.80 ERA in his first 13 starts.
Picked up on waivers from the Orioles during spring training, the 28-year-old was little more than an afterthought, a depth guy, at the time.
Now he's given the front office, and the manager, something to think about as the Blue Jays prepare for 2014.
“It's a pretty good story,” said manager John Gibbons. “He came out of nowhere, we didn't know what to expect but he really forced his way, earned his way into that rotation and he's done a great job. His last few outings, too, he's shown where he can go further and further into the game and maintain things. Early on he was basically a three, four inning guy, maybe you hoped to get five. He put himself on the map. It's a nice story. It's been a long road for him. I'm sure he's pretty excited about it.”
Redmond knows he'll have many eyes from back home watching him on Sunday afternoon.
“You want to go out there and throw strikes, get ahead of hitters and treat this like any other start,” he said. “Treat it like my last start in Baltimore. I'm still trying to earn a spot for next year so trying to impress and go out there and throw strikes and try to get people out.”
The Rays arrived in Toronto with a one-game lead on Cleveland for the American League's top wild card spot. Texas, on the outside, was two games back of Tampa Bay and a game back of the Indians, which held the second wild card spot.
Since, the Rays have dropped two games to the Blue Jays while the Indians (visiting the Twins) and the Rangers (hosting the Angels) have each won twice.
Entering today, with two playoff spots available, here are the wild card standings:
Cleveland (91-70): –
Tampa Bay (90-71): 1GB
Texas (90-71): 1 GB
In the event of a three way tie (that is, the Rays and Rangers win on Sunday and the Indians lose) Tampa Bay would visit Cleveland on Monday. The winner of that game would advance to Wednesday's wild card play-in game, while the loser would travel to Arlington, Texas to visit the Rangers on Tuesday for the right to play on Wednesday.
All of that to say, the Rays have created a mess for themselves by playing so poorly in Toronto this weekend.