TB@NYY: Pettitte emerges from dugout to warm ovation

TORONTO -- While Thursday night's game in the Bronx clearly belonged to Mariano Rivera, the Rays did not forget another Yankees great in their tributes.

Veteran left-hander Andy Pettitte is also retiring after the season, which prompted a moment of respect from the Rays just before they took the field in the bottom of the ninth.

Already the Rays had twice stood outside their dugout to honor Rivera, so they didn't want to forget Pettitte.

Evan Longoria noted that when the Rays began to take the field the crowd, had just begun chanting "Andy Pettitte!"

"I said, 'Let's wait a second,'" Longoria said. "All of us were in the dugout trying to get Andy to come out on the field. And he did eventually come out on the field.

"Pretty much the whole night was about Mariano Rivera, but it was kind of important for us to let Andy have his moment with the home crowd, as well. I think a lot of people thought it was for Mariano, but that moment right there was to let Andy get out on the field and get acknowledged."

Scenarios abound, but Rays in control of destiny

Friedman talks with Justice about Rays' 2013 campaign

TORONTO -- Entering Friday night's action, there were 64 possible combinations of Rays/Indians/Rangers in regards to wins and losses and what the playoff implications are.

Where the Rays are concerned, the nice part is they control their own destiny. Simply stated: If they win at least two games over the weekend -- regardless of what the Indians or Rangers do -- they will earn an American League Wild Card spot and host the AL Wild Card Game at Tropicana Field.

Ironically, the three longest winning streaks in baseball heading into Friday night were the Rays and Indians, who have won seven straight, and the Rangers, who have won four straight.

Of note, the Rays and Rangers, who each suffered through 4-14 slumps recently, are trying to join four other teams in the Wild Card era who endured 4-13 or worse slumps in the final six weeks and still made the postseason. The others were: the Brewers (2008), Yankees (2000), Mariners (2000) and 1995 Yankees.

The Rays are seeking their fourth trip to the postseason, all coming in the last six years. If they do reach the playoffs, they will be one of four teams to do so four times since 2008. The others are the Yankees, Cardinals and Phillies.

Rolling Rays relish stretch run

Joyce discusses Rays staying hot at the right time

TORONTO -- The Rays carried a seven-game winning streak into Friday night's game against the Blue Jays. The buzz generated by that success can be felt in the clubhouse.

Jose Molina knows what it feels like for a team to be on a roll, since he played for the 2002 Angels when they went on a tear to win the World Series. The veteran catcher said the team now has that same feeling.

"But there was a time where I didn't have the feeling," Molina said. "When we were in Minnesota, and the series before that here at home. I didn't feel that from the guys, like they wanted to win. I just saw something different. But as soon as we hit that series with Baltimore, it just changed everything.

"Everyone was into the game and we got the sweep. And they were in the game all four games. So that tells you that their heads were in that series."

Evan Longoria noted that the prize is in front of the Rays.

"It's right there," Longoria said. "We've put ourselves in a good position. All we have to do is go out there and continue to play the game the way we've been playing and not tighten up and have some fun.

"The game is still fun, even if you struggle personally. I've said it before and I'll say it again. If we win the World Series, it will be my best year. No matter how I did personally, because there's no more satisfying feeling than being the best team at the end of the year."

Longoria noted that he tweeted a while back that the "real power of a team, a united group, is immeasurable."

"And I feel like we've really gotten on that roll the past week or two weeks," Longoria said. "And that's the kind of thing that you need to ride into the playoffs and just be an unselfish group of baseball players that is just unified in one goal, and that's just winning the game no matter what."