Every win is vital in the close stages of the regular season.
Texas and Tampa Bay both won to book a one-game showdown for the final Major League Baseball playoff berth while the Cleveland Indians won to capture a post-season spot.
Tampa Bay seized a seven-run lead then hung on to edge host Toronto 7-6 to finish the six-month season 91-71, a record Texas then matched with a 6-2 home victory over the Los Angeles Angels.
Texas, which has won four of seven meetings with Tampa Bay this season, will play host to the Rays in a tie-breaker game on Monday with the winner to visit Cleveland on Wednesday for the American League wildcard playoff opener.
The Indians beat Minnesota 5-1 to claim a playoff spot, completing a 10-game win streak to finish the regular season 92-70. Cleveland went 5-1 against Texas this year but only 2-4 against Tampa Bay.
Wednesday’s winner will face Boston in one American League divisional series while Detroit will meet Oakland in the other.
Tampa Bay seized a seven-run lead then hung on to edge Toronto 7-6 to finish the season 91-71, then waited for Texas and the Los Angeles Angels to finish.
At Texas, Mike Trout blasted a solo homer off Texas starting pitcher Yu Darvish in the first inning to put the Angels ahead but the Rangers answered in the fifth on Craig Gentry’s two-run single to centerfield.
Japanese ace Darvish walked Trout with two outs in the sixth and was removed in favor of relief pitcher Neal Cotts, who then surrendered a run-scoring single to Josh Hamilton to level the game 2-2.
Darvish struck out eight batters, walked only two and scattered four hits over 5 2/3 innings of work.
Texas took a 3-2 lead in the sixth when Adrian Beltre singled, advanced on an A.J. Pierzynski single and scored on a Geovany Soto double to centerfield.
The Rangers added an insurance run in the seventh when Gentry singled, stole second, advanced to third on a sacrifice bunt and scored on an Ian Kinsler single.
Beltre and Soto each smashed a solo homer in the eighth for Texas to create the final margin.
At Toronto, the Rays took a 6-0 lead in the opening inning, their most productive first inning of the year coming at the moment they needed it most.
Toronto starting pitcher Todd Redmond, a native of the Tampa area whose parents are Rays’ season-ticket holders, gave up five runs on four hits in 2/3 of an inning.
James Loney had a run-scoring single and Evan Longoria followed with a double to bring home Loney for a 2-0 Rays’ lead.
Delmon Young singled to score Longoria and Matt Joyce walked, then Young and Joyce raced home on a Jose Lobaton double. When Yunel Escobar singled in Lobaton, Tampa Bay led 6-0.
Wil Myers doubled in Escobar in the fourth to give the Rays a 7-0 edge.
Toronto struck back with three runs in the sixth inning, Mark DeRosa hitting a two-run double and scoring on a sacrifice fly by J.P. Arencibia, and the Blue Jays pulled within 7-4 in the seventh on Brett Lawrie’s run-scoring double.
Toronto loaded the bases in the seventh on a walk to Moises Sierra, one that prompted so many complaints by Rays manager Joe Maddon that he was ejected. Blue Jays pinch hitter Adam Lind grounded into an inning-ending double play but Tampa Bay was in trouble.
In the eighth, Tampa Bay reliever Fernando Rodney made his first appearance in a week and surrendered run-scoring singles to Jose Reyes and Anthony Gose, then walked Lawrie to load the bases.
But Rodney struck out Sierra to preserve the Rays’ lead at 7-6, then allowed the tying run to reach base in the ninth before inducing the final outs to preserve the triumph.
Cleveland opened the scoring at Minnesota in the first inning on Nick Swisher’s two-run homer and the Indians added two runs in the sixth when Carlos Santana scored on an error and Ryan Raburn scored on a sacrifice fly by Yan Gomes.
Santana singled in a run in the seventh before the Twins scored on a single by Eric Fryer in their half of the seventh to create the final margin.
The St. Louis Cardinals beat the Chicago Cubs 4-0 to clinch the best record in the National League and book a playoff date against the NL wildcard-game winner, either Pittsburgh or Cincinnati. The Atlanta Braves will meet the Los Angeles Dodgers in the other NL divisional series.
Baltimore’s Chris Davis led Major League Baseball with 53 homers and 138 runs batted in for the season.