(Toronto) The Toronto Blue Jays took another step toward a playoff spot Friday night by crushing the Tampa Bay Rays 11-4 at Rogers Center.

The victory strengthened the Blue Jays’ hold on the second tier of drafted teams. It also lowered the magic number to one for the Seattle Mariners, who were scheduled to face the Texas Rangers later Friday night.

“That’s what we’re capable of doing,” Blue Jays manager John Schneider said. Everyone talks about our pitchers and our defense. But our hitters can score some runs. »

“We hope to continue this momentum. »

Alejandro Kirk, Brandon Belt and Matt Chapman each hit a long ball for the Blue Jays (89-71), who outshot the Rays 16-7.

Bo Bichette put four balls to safety and Vladimir Guerrero Jr. added three hits to the total for Toronto, who have won nine of their last 13 outings.

“Hitting at the right time is a good thing,” Schneider said. If you’re doing it with guys out there and hitting home runs, that’s a really good thing. »

Yandy Diaz was the positive element for the Rays (97-63), who are already assured of first place among the drafted teams and to be the fourth seed in the American. Diaz hit a two-run homer and hit the trail three times.

The victory strengthened the Blue Jays’ hold on the second tier of drafted teams. She also lowered the magic number to one for the Seattle Mariners, who face the Texas Rangers later tonight.

The champions of the Eastern section of the American, the Baltimore Orioles, have already confirmed their place as first seed while the champions of the Central section, the Minnesota Twins, will be third.

Heading into Friday’s game, the Rangers held a two-game lead over the Houston Astros in the race for the top of the West Division and second place in the American Division. The Astros also find themselves in third place among drafted teams, one game behind the Blue Jays and one game ahead of the Mariners.

Several playoff confrontations remain to be determined heading into the final weekend of the season.

The Rays have used several regulars as starters, although this three-game series is essentially preparation for the playoffs.

The visitors were aggressive from the start of the game against Blue Jays starter Yusei Kikuchi (11-6), who only needed five pitches to collect the first three outs.

Rays starter Aaron Civale (7-5) was removed from the game in the second inning after allowing Kirk’s eighth homer of the season and allowing the next two batters to walk.

Zack Littell took over and walked George Springer before striking out Belt with the bases all loaded.

Littell struggled in the third inning, allowing back-to-back singles, a walk and a two-run single to Kirk.

Cavan Biggio made it 4-0 for the Blue Jays when he touched home plate following a long sacrifice from Kevin Kiermaier.

Rays center fielder Manuel Margot dropped a fly that pushed Chapman to second base and moved Kirk to third base. Littell ended the threat by removing Daulton Varsho and Springer.

Belt started the bottom of the fourth inning with his 18th four-goal hit of the season.

Margot’s rough night continued later in the inning when he misjudged a Biggio single. The ball hit the fence, allowing Bichette and Biggio to cross the plate.

Chapman hit his 17th home run of the season, in the fifth inning. Diaz finally got the Rays on the scoreboard, during his team’s four-run sixth inning.

The Blue Jays added some insurance runs in the bottom of the sixth inning, following a two-run single by Biggio. The Toronto team added a point in the seventh.

Kikuchi allowed three earned runs, five hits and two walks in five-plus innings of work. He struck out four Rays players.

Chad Green, Yimi Garcia and Jay Jackson all pitched in relief for the Blue Jays. Replacement hitter Cam Eden was struck out in his first appearance in the Majors, in the eighth inning.