TORONTO -- The Blue Jays' final series of the year against the Rays will have implications for Tampa Bay in the American League Wild Card race, but it will also dictate where Toronto picks in next year's First-Year Player Draft.
Toronto entered play on Friday night in a tie for the seventh-worst record (72-87) in the Majors. The Blue Jays are even with Colorado, Philadelphia and Milwaukee.
That's important because the teams with the 10 worst records in baseball will have their first-round picks protected in next year's Draft. The protected pick allows teams to sign free agents that receive qualifying offers without having to surrender next year's selection as compensation.
Toronto could still finish outside of the bottom 10, with the Mets (73-86) and Giants (74-85) having the chance to move below the Blue Jays in the standings. But Toronto does own the tiebreaker with both teams because it finished with a worse record last season.
Despite the stakes, the Blue Jays certainly aren't expected to give away any games against the Rays. Tampa Bay entered play on Friday night with a magic number of two to clinch an American League Wild Card berth, with a one-game lead over the Indians for home-field advantage in the AL Wild Card Game and two games ahead of the Rangers.
The Rangers need the Blue Jays to beat the Rays and the Twins to beat the Indians. Texas manager Ron Washington was asked if he felt the Twins and the Blue Jays will do everything they can to win.
"I can tell you with Ron Gardenhire as manager of the Minnesota Twins, that answers that question," Washington said. "With John Gibbons as manager of the Toronto Blue Jays, that answers that question. They are pros. That's just professionalism. That's all that is. You can't describe it any way else. No matter who you play or where you play, you want to win."
That's a sentiment Gibbons echoed before the start of Friday night's game against the Rays.
"We want to finish good, we still have a say in what happens to Tampa over there, so we'd like to play a good series," Gibbons said. "That would bring some satisfaction to us. We've been playing pretty good baseball, we haven't been scoring a lot, it's a different offense, but guys are competing pretty good. Big hit here or there would make a difference."
Sore back keeps Lind out of Blue Jays' lineup
TORONTO -- Blue Jays first baseman Adam Lind missed his second consecutive game on Friday night because of back soreness.
Lind has been dealing with back issues for the past few years, but had the issue flare up during a game against the Orioles on Wednesday night.
Toronto didn't post its lineup until late Friday afternoon, because it was waiting to see if Lind received clearance to play. Just prior to game time, he was deemed unfit to go.
"We're waiting on him now. He was going to go out and take some swings and get a better idea," Blue Jays manager John Gibbons said before the lineup was announced. "We'll go day by day with him."
Lind still remains optimistic that he will be able to play in one of the Blue Jays' final two games of the season. He will be questionable for both Saturday and Sunday afternoon.
The 30-year-old was adamant in Baltimore that he wasn't prepared to shut things down for the season, even with the club nearing the end of its run. Lind spent time on the disabled list because of a sore back in both 2011 and '12, but managed to avoid a similar fate this season.
Lind also still has plenty at stake, considering he has a club option on his contract for 2014. The Blue Jays will have to decide whether to exercise the $7 million option for next year, or instead decide to buy it out for $2 million.
The Blue Jays won't make that final call until after the World Series as per club policy, but general manager Alex Anthopoulos strongly hinted this week that Lind would be back with the club next year. Lind enjoyed somewhat of a resurgence this season, and he is hitting .285 with 23 homers and 64 RBIs while posting an .850 OPS in 141 games.