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 Lacombe Legion volunteers laid poppies beside the graves of veterans on Oct. 28. (Alannah Page/Lacombe Express)
Lacombe Legion volunteers lay poppies for fallen veterans

Twenty volunteers showed up on Wednesday to pay their respects and help out

There were 410 COVID-19 cases recorded in Alberta Wednesday. (File photo)
Alberta records 410 new COVID-19 cases Wednesday

Central zone dropped to 160 active cases

Shaun Isaac, owner of Woodchucker Firewood in Trochu, is awaiting a new shipment during a firewood shortage in the province. All of the wood he has left is being saved for long-time customers who need it to heat their homes. (Contributed photo).
Firewood shortage in central Alberta caused by rising demand, gaps in supply

‘I’ve said “No” to more people than ever’: firewood seller

(Black Press file photo)
Lacombe City Council meeting highlights – Oct. 26

Lacombe City Council held a regular meeting of council on Oct. 26

Royal Alexandra Hospital front-line workers walk a picket line after walking off the job in a wildcat strike in Edmonton, on Monday, October 26, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
Alberta labour board orders health-care staff who walked off the job to go back to work

Finance Minister Travis Toews said in a news release that he was pleased with the labour board’s decision

Husky Energy logo is shown at the company’s annual meeting in Calgary on May 5, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
Husky pipeline spills 900,000 litres of produced water in northwestern Alberta

The energy regulator says environmental contractors are at the site

A raccoon paid a visit to a Toronto Tim Hortons on Oct. 22, 2020. (shecallsmedrew/Twitter)
Who are you calling a trash panda? Raccoon takes a shift at Toronto Tim Hortons

Tim Hortons said animal control was called as soon they saw the surprise visitor

Sharon Hickin, general manager of the Days Inn Sylvan Lake and the new Lake House Diner, poses for a photo outside the new restaurant. Photo by Megan Roth/Sylvan Lake News
Pandemic puts extra hurdles in place for new Sylvan Lake businesses

Over the past seven months numerous new businesses have opened in Sylvan Lake, despite the pandemic

file photo
Maskwacis RCMP investigate pedestrian fatality

Collision on Highway 2A causing fatality still under investigation.

Rachel Notley, leader of Alberta’s official Opposition, speaks in Edmonton on Wednesday, Oct. 16, 2019. Notley says the government needs to sharply ramp up the number of contact tracers if it wants to get a handle on the rising number of COVID-19 cases. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
Alberta Opposition calls for more COVID-19 contact tracers as case numbers rise

Alberta has about 800 tracers, and chief medical health officer Dr. Hinshaw says more are being recruited

Royal Alexandra Hospital front-line workers walk a picket line after walking off the job in a wildcat strike in Edmonton, on Monday, October 26, 2020. Hospital and health-care workers who staged a one-day illegal walkout returned to work Tuesday while politicians swapped recriminations and accusations in the house over the dispute. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
Alberta health staff return to work, surgeries resume after one-day walkout

AHS estimated 157 non-emergency surgeries, most of them in Edmonton, had to be postponed as a result of the walkout

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau makes his way to provide an update on the COVID pandemic in Ottawa on Tuesday, Oct. 27, 2020. Canada has reached a grim milestone in the COVID-19 pandemic, surpassing 10,000 novel coronavirus deaths. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Alberta COVID deaths pushes Canada past milestone of 10,000 deaths

Canada crossed the threshold of 5,000 deaths on May 12, a little over two months after the first was reported

Most Read