CHICAGO — The math is there for the Tampa Bay Rays to see and despite a 10-4 victory Saturday over the slumping Chicago White Sox, they know pulling out a wild card berth when trailing by three with four to play is a monumental assignment.
Of course, they didn’t clinch a playoff spot last season until the final day. So, keep playing.
“We have to believe we’re going to get the help while we take care of our own business. We’re 1-0 on Saturday, let’s go 1-0 on Sunday,” manager Joe Maddon said. “I’m like the biggest scoreboard watcher, but at the end of the day I can’t worry about that.”
For the White Sox, it’s just as difficult. They trail Detroit by two in the AL Central with four left and must find a way Sunday to beat Rays ace David Price as he goes for his 20th win.
“We have to win every game and hope Detroit loses a couple,” said Chicago’s Alex Rios, who had two of the White Sox’s four hits allowed Saturday by Tampa Bay starter Matt Moore and two relievers. “That’s what has to happen.”
Moore allowed one hit in 5 1-3 shutout innings, Matt Joyce came off the bench to homer twice and Jeff Keppinger and Chris Gimenez also connected Saturday.
Tampa Bay, with nine wins in 10 games, remained three games out of the second wild card behind Oakland, which beat Seattle 7-4 in 10 innings Saturday.
The White Sox, who’ve dropped 9 of 11, fell two games behind Detroit in the AL Central when the Tigers defeated the Twins 6-4
After Sunday, the Rays go home for three against Baltimore and the White Sox head to Cleveland. Detroit goes to Kansas City, while Oakland has three at home against the AL West leading Rangers.
“If we win out, we’re hoping the way their (A’s) schedule is — a chip and a chair kind of thing —that’s all we need,” Gimenez said.
Moore (11-11), 0-4 in his previous five starts, retired the first 13 batters before Rios singled with one out in the fifth. Dayan Viciedo followed with a walk but Moore got out of it on a fly ball and a strikeout of Tyler Flowers.
“I never felt that there was anything wrong, especially physically. And that’s where a little bit of the questions came from at this stage of the season and with my age,” said Moore, like Sale, a young lefty with a big future. “That’s a natural question with my velocity being down a little bit. But I felt like I went out there and competed with what I had.”
With the White Sox trailing 10-0 in the eighth, pinch-hitter Orlando Hudson hit a grand slam off reliever Chris Archer — Chicago’s fourth hit all day.
Sale (17-8), who has pitched 192 innings in his first year as a starter, lasted just 3 1-3 innings, his shortest start of the season. He gave up seven hits and was charged with five runs while walking three and striking out seven.
He said fatigue was not a factor whatsoever.
“That was terrible. That was a disgrace,” Sale said.
“I did nothing to help the team win, put guys in positions that they shouldn’t have been in. To go out and have your starter go three innings, that’s a recipe for a disaster pretty much every time. Like I said before, just didn’t do my job. Team needed me and I didn’t pull it out for them. Just a frustrating day.”
Sale beat Moore 2-1 at Tropicana Field on May 28 when he struck out 15 to Moore’s 10, but this time he wasn’t sharp from the outset, struggling with his control.
“When he doesn’t locate, I think that was the biggest thing for him today,” Chicago manager Robin Ventura said. “He was just not in the zone enough. It was just one of those, you don’t expect that out of him but it is late in the year and stuff can happen. Other than that we stunk.”
The Rays had two runners on in both the first and second innings but Sale used his strikeout pitch to escape — he had five in the first two frames.
But B.J. Upton drew a leadoff walk in third and raced home on Ben Zobrist’s double into the left-field corner. Evan Longoria lined out, but Keppinger hit his ninth homer, just over the fence in left-center to make it 3-0.
Upton’s RBI single in the fourth made it 4-0 and finished the young White Sox ace. Longoria added a run-scoring single off reliever Brian Omogrosso with Upton thrown out at the plate to end the inning. Gimenez hit his first homer of the season and sixth of his major league career, leading off the sixth against Deunte Heath for a six-run cushion.
NOTES: Moore’s fourth strikeout of the game in the fifth was his 175th of the season, setting the Rays’ rookie record. Scott Kazmir had 174 in 2005. … White Sox leadoff hitter Alejandro De Aza was scratched from the lineup with flu-like symptoms and replaced by Dewayne Wise. … Price (19-5), who could become the first 20-game winner in Tampa Bay history, will be opposed by Chicago’s Jose Quintana (6-5) on Sunday.