The Tampa Bay Rays entered the Wild Card Series against the No. 8 Blue Jays as the second best team in the MLB with a 40-20 record and held the No. 1 seed in the American League. The Rays showed why they were one of the best teams in the league this year and why they should no longer be considered the underdogs.
In what was largely defined as a pitchers duel, the Rays edged out the Blue Jays 3-1 to claim a 1-0 lead in the AL Wild Card Series.
The Rays’ pitching commanded the momentum of the game largely in part due to a remarkable outing by SP Blake Snell (1-0), who carried a no-hitter into the sixth inning. Snell’s nine strikeout performance tied a franchise record for strikeouts in a postseason game, previously held by SP Matt Garza (2008, ALCS) and SP Charlie Morton (2019, ALDS).
The Rays got the party started in the fourth with a leadoff triple by LF Randy Arozarena, ultimately scoring on a wild pitch by LHP Robbie Ray. RF Manuel Margot later secured the victory with a two-run home run in the seventh inning to give the Rays a 3-0 lead.
The Blue Jays may have dropped Game 1 but they held their own against the No. 1 seed. Their bats didn’t come alive until the late innings, however, and they failed to get a runner in scoring position until the seventh inning.
Aside from Margot’s two-run homer off A.J. Cole and a wild pitch by Ray, the pitching staff competed. SP Matt Shoemaker tossed three shutout innings, Ray dominated in his fifth career relief appearance, and LHP Ryan Borucki and RHP Thomas Hatch stopped the bleeding to shut down the Rays the rest of the way.
Game 1 Notable Performances:
Snell: 5.2 IP, 1 H, 2 BB, 9Ks, W
Peter Fairbanks: 1.0 IP, 1 H, 2 Ks, SV
Margot: 2-3, 1 R, 2 RBI
Lourdes Gurriel Jr.: 2-4
Bo Bichette: 0-3, 1 BB, 1 RBI
Breakout the broomsticks! The Rays swept their way to the ALDS with an 8-2 win over Toronto. The big blow came in the second inning courtesy of a two-run homer by C Mike Zunino and a Grand Slam by OF Hunter Renfroe, which was enough for manager Charlie Montoyo to pull the hook on his starting pitcher Hyun-jin Ryu.
The Rays offense exploded behind a magnificent outing by SP Tyler Glasnow, who was painting corners and throwing heat. The 6-foot-8 Glasnow was too much for a young Blue Jays lineup to handle, as he threw 19 first pitch strikes to the 25 batters he faced. The entire damage against Glasnow came from C Danny Jansen, who blasted a solo shot in the third and fifth innings.
The Blue Jays struggled offensively outside of Jansen’s 2-3 performance. In total, the Blue Jays left six runners on base and went a combined 0-13 with runners in scoring position over the two-game span.
The pitching struggled as well, most notably due to Ryu giving up 8 hits in 1.2 innings of work. On the bright side, RHP Nate Pearson made his Postseason debut and was perfect to say the least. Pearson followed RHP Ross Stripling out of the bullpen in the fourth inning, saw six batters in his two innings of work, and struck out five along the way.
Pearson and the Blue Jays’ bullpen shut down the Rays’ offense by only allowing one hit after the third inning. Unfortunately for Toronto, it was too little too late, as they dropped the series with an 8-2 loss.
Game 2 Notable Performances:
Glasnow: 6 IP, 8 Ks, 2 R, 2 ER, 6 H, 1 BB
Arozarena: 3-4, 1 BB, 2 2B, 2 R, 1 RBI
Renfroe: 1-4, 4 RBI, 1 HR, 2 Ks
Zunino: 1-4, 2 RBI, 2 Ks
Pearson: 2 IP, 5 Ks, 0 BB, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 H
Ryu: 1.2 IP, 3Ks, 7 R, 3 ER, 8 H, 1 BB
Jansen: 2-3, 2 HR, 2 RBI, 2 R
Bichette: 0-3, 1 BB, 2 E
My name is Sebastian and I am a senior at Northern Arizona University. I am a double major in journalism and communication, along with a minor in German. I have been in various editorial positions and have contributed articles to The Lumberjack, NAU's student-run newspaper.