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BAL@TB: Archer strikes out seven, all swinging

While the Rays took a 6-3 loss to the Blue Jays on Friday, they are still in control of their postseason destiny.

If Tampa Bay can win its next two games in Toronto to finish out the regular season -- regardless of what the Indians and Rangers do -- it will earn an American League Wild Card spot and host the AL Wild Card Game at Tropicana Field. The Rays are tied with the Tribe for the top AL Wild Card spot, with Texas just a game back.

"It's right there," Rays third baseman Evan 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."

Hoping to get them there is right-hander Chris Archer, who will take the hill Saturday at Rogers Centre. The Rays rookie is in unfamiliar territory, never having pitched this deep into a season before. Because of that, Archer will be on a shorter leash for the start.

"I understand where my new limitations are as far as pitches and innings. It's almost like I have somewhat of a new role," Archer said. "Just keep the team in the game as long as I can with X amount of pitches. Instead of it being 110, now it's a little bit less. But I don't think of it any differently."

Not tossing over 112 pitches this season, Archer expects to be somewhere around 85-95 pitches.

"It's not set, but it's really dictated by how the game is going," Archer said. "I know I'm not going to throw 115 like I have in the past."

In his previous outing against the Orioles, Archer allowed four runs on five hits, including two home runs, in 4 1/3 innings for the no-decision.

He'll face Blue Jays left-hander J.A. Happ, who will take the mound for the last time this season. Happ is winless in his last three starts.

In his previous outing against the White Sox, he allowed three runs on eight hits in five innings for his seventh loss of the season. Happ's struggles came in a 40-pitch second inning.

With it being his team's last series of the season, Blue Jays manager John Gibbons wants Toronto to finish strong and play spoiler to Tampa Bay's postseason hopes.

"We want to finish well, 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."

Rays: Team relishing stretch run
• The buzz surrounding the Rays for this weekend's series in Toronto has been palpable in the clubhouse.

"The game is still fun, even if you struggle personally," Longoria said. "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."

Veteran catcher Jose Molina, who played for the Angels in 2002 when they won the World Series, said the Rays, like the Angels, have 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."

Blue Jays: Lind out of lineup
• First baseman Adam Lind missed his second consecutive game on Friday night because of back soreness.

While back problems have been a lingering issue for Lind the past few years, his most recent flare-up occurred 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," Gibbons said before the lineup was announced. "We'll go day by day with him."

Worth Noting
• Sergio Santos' scoreless-innings streak came to a close on Friday night, when he allowed one run and two hits to the Rays in 1 2/3 innings. The Blue Jays' reliever had tossed 13 scoreless innings before that.

• Rays first baseman James Loney leads the Majors with a .357 batting average on the road.

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