ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (AP) – Aside from Blake Snell, the left ace, the Tampa Bay Rays are little known in the small market.
In the postseason, the American League number 1 showed where all this dominance comes from.
“Tonight was a pretty good display of the Tampa Bay Rays – our players, how we win games,” said manager Kevin Cash. “We found that success in close matches is really good. Pitching, defense and timely hits are the reasons for this. “
After Snell scored a no-hitter in the sixth inning, shortstop Willy Adames played lively defensive games and Manuel Margot delivered a homer in two runs, the AL East champions opened the playoffs on Tuesday with a 3-1 win over the Toronto Blue Jays.
The Rays will seek to advance in the Best of Three Wild Card Matchup Game 2 at Tropicana Field, where seats are empty except for family and friends on both teams.
“I think the biggest thing is not to push, not really panic. That’s probably the worst thing we can do as a team, ”said Cavan Biggio, Blue Jays’ third baseman.
“It’s a bigger stage right now and not many of our boys have actually played in the playoffs before,” added Hall of Famer Craig Biggio, “but I think we learned from it today.”
Snell only allowed two base runners until Alejandro Kirk finished sixth. The 27-year-old left pulled back for the next two skirmishes, but Cash didn’t give him a chance to finish the inning.
Diego Castillo, Nick Anderson, and Pete Fairbanks followed the starter, narrowing the Blue Jays to two singles, two doubles, and Bo Bichette’s eighth inning victims who flew the rest of the way.
Fairbanks closed for its first rescue of the season as Cash consistently took a fresh and innovative approach to the use of its pitching staff.
Snell took one hit, walked two, and struck nine, which was a postseason record for Rays.
“I get into a groove. It usually takes me a while to get started anyway,” said Snell. “It’s been two months but I usually start slowly. I’m starting to get the hang of it and feel it. The playoff energy sure makes me a lot more excited. “
Robbie Ray, a Toronto aide, took the loss and gave up a run and a hit in three innings. Margot met his homer before A.J. Cole gives Tampa Bay a 3-0 lead in the seventh inning.
The wildcard Blue Jays broke through in the eighth game against Anderson and did not allow a run in 18 of 19 regular season appearances.
Rowdy Tellez’s pinch hit single gave Toronto a spark. Biggio followed with a double before Bichette delivered his victim fly to 3-1.
Anderson avoided further harm when Adames made a fine game to catch Randal Grichuk’s liner and end the inning.
Fairbanks worked a goalless ninth place and became the 13th distinct pitcher to score a save for the Rays that season.
The Rays are back in the playoffs after beating Oakland in last year’s AL wildcard game and losing to Houston in the divisional round.
With a league record of 40 to 20, they have conquered their first division in 10 years. Tampa Bay also won six of ten games against Toronto, although it was beaten 48-44 and 17-11 in the regular season.
Snell had only modest successes against the Blue Jays during his career but the young division rivals had no answers for left Tuesday until Kirk shot through the hole between first and second bases and Castillo was already warming up in the Rays bullpen.
The Rays starter attacked Grichuk with two outs in the first game before fanning Vladimir Guerrero Jr. Teoscar Hernandez took a one-off stroll before being cleared on a doubles game at the inning end that put Snell through the fifth.
“The moment he threw all of his pitches for strikes, it would be difficult for our thugs. He’s pretty good, ”said Charlie Joyo, manager of Blue Jays, who worked for Rays for Cash from 2015-18.
“I don’t really defend our thugs. We hunted a lot. That’s why we hit Snell nine times,” said Montoyo. “But I know when he’s on, that’s what hitters usually do, and I could tell that it was on. … I could say that from the beginning. “
Matt Shoemaker, who missed a month of the regular season with a right shoulder injury, started and worked three goalless innings for the Blue Jays.
Randy Arozarena led the fourth with a triple ahead of Ray and scored when a wild pitch passed catcher Danny Jansen on a walk to Adames.
WHO IS CALLING
Rookie LHP Shane McClanahan, who has not yet appeared in a Major League game, was a surprising addition to Tampa Bay’s 28-man wildcard list. The 23-year-old found out about the decision from Cash and General Manager Erik Neander on Monday. The first people he tried to call were his mother and father, who didn’t answer. When his mother called back two hours later and asked what was going on, he delivered the message. “She was happy,” said McClanahan. “I thought,” Hey, maybe you want to answer that call. “
Blue Jays: Tellez (right knee strain) entered the wildcard list after being added to the 10-day injured list on September 9 and missing the remainder of the regular season.
Rays: INF Yandy Díaz (right thigh trunk), who has been out since September 1, has been added to the playoff list. 1B Ji-Man Choi (left thigh trunk) also returned.
Lefty Hyun Jin Ryu starts for the Blue Jays against right-hander Tyler Glasnow, who was the best pitcher in Tampa Bay. Both will work on an additional day off.