The Tampa Bay Rays clinched their second consecutive American League East title Saturday after defeating the Miami Marlins 7-3.
Starting pitcher Shane McClanahan got the win after tossing five innings of one-run ball. At the dish, catcher Mike Zunino led the way with a two-run blast in the fifth to give Tampa Bay a 3-1 edge.
Second baseman and leadoff hitter Brandon Lowe set the table with four hits, including a pair of RBI doubles.
The Boston Red Sox fell 5-3 to the New York Yankees earlier Saturday, meaning that the Rays only needed one more win to clinch the division. They got the job done with seven regular-season games remaining.
The Rays won the AL East last year after posting a 40-20 record during the pandemic-shortened season. They beat the Toronto Blue Jays, New York Yankees and Houston Astros in the AL playoffs before falling to the Los Angeles Dodgers 4-2 in the World Series.
Tampa Bay is hoping to clinch its second consecutive AL pennant en route to winning the first World Series in franchise history.
Now the Rays can set their sights on clinching home-field advantage throughout the American League playoffs.
They are in line to do so: Following the win, Tampa Bay led the Houston Astros by five games in that race. The Rays can take care of their own business there, as they'll be traveling to Houston for a three-game series beginning Tuesday.
Earning the No. 1 seed would mean a date with the AL Wild Card Game winner. The Yankees and Red Sox, who have matching 88-67 records, currently occupy those two spots.
Tampa closes its season with a Sunday matinee versus the Marlins, the aforementioned three-game Astros series and a three-game road trip to New York to play the Yankees.