Tampa Bay Rays’ Randy Arozarena slides into third base with a triple as Toronto Blue Jays’ Cavan Biggio, left, waits for the throw during the fourth inning of Game 1 of a wild card series playoff baseball game Tuesday, Sept. 29, 2020, in St. Petersburg, Fla. (AP Photo/Chris O’Meara)

Tampa Bay Rays’ Randy Arozarena slides into third base with a triple as Toronto Blue Jays’ Cavan Biggio, left, waits for the throw during the fourth inning of Game 1 of a wild card series playoff baseball game Tuesday, Sept. 29, 2020, in St. Petersburg, Fla. (AP Photo/Chris O’Meara)

Rays dump Jays 3-1 in MLB wild-card playoff series opener

Tampa takes 1-0 lead over Toronto in best-of-three clash

The Tampa Bay Rays struck first in their wild-card series against Toronto on Tuesday, riding a stellar performance from starter Blake Snell to a 3-1 victory over the Blue Jays in St. Petersburg, Fla.

Snell was dominant over 5 2/3 innings, allowing one hit and striking out nine. Manuel Margot hit a two-run homer in the seventh inning and Pete Fairbanks survived a nervous ninth for the save.

The Blue Jays scored their lone run in the eighth inning when Bo Bichette drove in Rowdy Tellez with a sacrifice fly. Lourdes Gurriel, Jr., doubled in the ninth before Fairbanks struck out Teoscar Hernandez and got Joe Panik on a weak pop-up to end it.

Toronto’s Matt Shoemaker, a surprise starter for the opener of the best-of-three series, threw three scoreless innings in his second start since missing a month due to right shoulder inflammation.

The move was a gamble for the Blue Jays, who felt comfortable taking the chance that their second-best starter, Taijuan Walker, wouldn’t pitch unless the series goes the distance. The decision also allowed ace Hyun-Jin Ryu to get an extra day of rest ahead of his Game 2 start on Wednesday.

Shoemaker gave up two hits and struck out a pair over a 35-pitch outing. With left-hander Robbie Ray on in the fourth inning, Randy Arozarena led off with a triple and scored the game’s first run on a wild pitch.

The Blue Jays threatened in the seventh after Diego Castillo hit Vladimir Guerrero Jr., with a pitch and gave up a one-out single to Gurriel. But Nick Anderson came on and retired Hernandez and Panik.

In the bottom half, A.J. Cole walked Joey Wendle before Margot went deep on a 1-1 pitch.

Snell, who won the AL Cy Young Award in 2018, was consistently ahead in counts and didn’t allow a hit until Alejandro Kirk led off the sixth inning with a single. He walked two batters and threw 48-of-82 pitches for strikes.

Ray settled in after his early hiccup, throwing three innings of one-hit ball while striking out five. Ryan Borucki and Thomas Hatch also pitched for the Blue Jays, who held Tampa Bay to four hits.

The Rays are the top seed in the American League after a 40-20 regular season. The Blue Jays took the eighth and final seed after a 32-28 campaign.

Toronto went 4-6 against the Rays in the regular season but outscored Tampa Bay 48-44 overall. Four of the Blue Jays’ six losses were by one run.

The Blue Jays finalized their 28-man series roster earlier in the day. Tellez, who missed three weeks with a knee strain, made the cut while injured reliever Jordan Romano (finger) of Markham, Ont., did not.

This is the first time that the Rays and Blue Jays have met in the playoffs. Tyler Glasnow is listed as Tampa Bay’s probable starter for Game 2 ahead of Charlie Morton in Game 3.

The Rays, who have yet to win a World Series since making their debut in 1998, lost in the American League Division Series last year.

The Blue Jays, who won championships in 1992 and ‘93, are making their first playoff appearance since 2016.

READ MORE: Blue Jays dump Yankees 4-1 to clinch MLB post-season berth

Notes: The game took three hours six minutes to play. … Kirk, who batted eighth as the designated hitter, hadn’t played above the single-A level before this year. He hit .375 over nine games in the regular season. … The Rays are listed as 6-1 picks to win the World Series, according to Bodog. The Blue Jays are a 28-1 longshot. … This is Toronto’s eighth all-time post-season appearance. The first one came in 1985.

THE CANADIAN PRESS

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter 

BaseballBlue JaysMLB

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

The RCMP was called to a condo complex in Langley City in the early hours of Jan. 18, 2021, for a shooting. (Shane Mackichan/Special to the Langley Advance Times)
Our View: Too many shootings as gang war continues

We need to ask what more we could be doing to stop the endless gang wars

A lawsuit over three stormwater floods of a building over the past year has been launched against Langley City. (Langley Advance Times file)
Flooded apartment building sparks lawsuit against Langley City

A downtown landlord claims a lack of storm sewer upgrades is negligence

Abbotsford’s Willow Video location will be closing at the end of the month. (Ben Lypka/Abbotsford News)
Abbotsford’s Willow Video closing

Video game, movie retailer closing up shop after more than 20 years

Maj.-Gen. Dany Fortin, vice-president of logistics and operations at the Public Health Agency of Canada, speaks at a news conference on the COVID-19 pandemic in Ottawa, on Friday, Jan. 15, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Justin Tang
B.C. records 500 new COVID-19 cases Wednesday, 14 deaths

Outbreak at Surrey Pretrial jail, two more in health care

Vancouver Canucks’ Travis Hamonic grabs Montreal Canadiens’ Josh Anderson by the face during first period NHL action in Vancouver, Wednesday, Jan. 20, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Horvat scores winner as Canucks dump Habs 6-5 in shootout thriller

Vancouver and Montreal clash again Thursday night

A woman writes a message on a memorial mural wall by street artist James “Smokey Devil” Hardy during a memorial to remember victims of illicit drug overdose deaths on International Overdose Awareness Day, in the Downtown Eastside of Vancouver, on Monday, August 31, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. paramedics respond to record-breaking number of overdose calls in 2020

On the front lines, COVID-19 has not only led to more calls, but increased the complexity

Eighteen-year-old Aidan Webber died in a marine accident in 2019. He was a Canadian Junior BMX champion from Nanaimo. (Submitted)
Inadequate safety training a factor in teen BMX star’s workplace death in 2019

Aidan Webber was crushed by a barge at a fish farm near Port Hardy

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Southern resident killer whales in B.C. waters. Research shows the population’s females are more negatively influenced by vessel traffic than males. (Photo supplied by Ocean Wise Conservation Association)
Female orcas less likely to feed in presence of vessel traffic: study

Research the southern resident population raises concerns over reproduction capacity

(Black Press Media files)
Transport Canada not budging on enclosed deck rules, despite calls from BC Ferries union

There have been at least 23 cases of the U.K. variant detected in Canada, four of which are in B.C.

The Elk Valley Hospital is adapting to meet the needs of patients in the Elk Valley.
1-in-5 COVID tests coming back positive in and around Fernie, sparking concern

Dr Ron Clark of Elk Valley Hospital said one in five tests was returning positive for COVID-19

Ralliers gather in front of the Cityviews Village apartment building in Maple Ridge to protest attempts to evict low-income tenants by the building owner. (Ronan O’Doherty - The News)
Tenants protest pressure tactics by new landlord at Maple Ridge apartment building

Protest held in front of Cityviews Village on 223 St. Tuesday to rally against low-income evictions

Most Read