Just days after the end of the regular season, the Tampa Bay Rays are on to the American League Divisional Round! They took on the Toronto Blue Jays in the Wild Card series required of every team this season. The Rays made light work of the Jays, dispatching them in just two games.
The Wild Card Round
The Tampa Bay Rays swept the Toronto Blue Jays in dominant fashion. Before the series even started, the Rays were met with good news.
The Wild Card round roster featured a pair of players who had missed some time going into the postseason. Both Yandy Diaz and Ji Man Choi saw action against the Blue Jays with the idea that needed some time to get back to game speed. They showed the rust, as neither got a hit. The Rays hope to see a return to form from the pair going forward.
The Tampa Bay Rays took Game One in a defensive battle. Ace Blake Snell got the call, and he looked as close to his AL Cy Young-winning form that we have seen since 2018.
Snell had his fastball working early, as he began racking up strikeouts. By the time manager, Kevin Cash made a call to the bullpen, Snell collected nine strikeouts over just five and 2/3 innings.
The game overall was low scoring and the Rays opened the scoring in the most obvious way possible: a wild pitch. Randy Arozarena led off the fourth inning with a triple against Robbie Ray. After striking out Nate Lowe, Ray had a tough time with Willy Adames. Adames took a six-pitch walk, with Arozarena crossing home on the first pitch, one in the clay.
Manuel Margot, another newcomer who had a great series, extended the Rays’ lead in the bottom of the seventh. With one out, Joey Wendle drew a walk, putting him on first. Margot took just two pitches before sending the ball deep to left-center field and out. Rays lead 3-0.
To cut the lead to two runs, the Blue Jays put runners on second and third in the eighth. Bo Bichette took a sacrifice fly to right field, making the game 3-1. The game would end at that score, with Pete Fairbanks claiming the save.
Game Two would go a bit differently. The Tampa Bay Rays jumped out to a huge lead, scoring all of their runs, within three innings. The first was simple, small ball, the Rays put runners on the bases with a pair of singles. Margot chipped in again, sending a ball into right field, scoring Arozarena.
The second inning was the exclamation point on the game for the Rays. Catcher Mike Zunino got the scoring started with a two-run bomb off of Jays’ starter Hyun Jin Ryu. The backbreaker would come six batters down the line.
The Rays loaded the bases with two outs, and I, as I’m sure many fans did, worried when Hunter Renfroe stepped into the box. Renfroe has struggled this year, but he did exactly what he gets paid to do. He launched a cutter that hung up into the stands, scoring all four runners.
To complement the offensive outburst, the Tampa Bay Rays got great pitching from Tyler Glasnow. The flamethrower tossed six innings and let up just two runs on solo shots by Danny Jansen. Glasnow whiffed eight batters, and Nick Anderson finished out the game without being awarded a save.
Tampa Bay Rays’ Batter of the Week
.429/.429/.857, 1 HR, 3 RBI
Manuel Margot was a force to be reckoned with against the Blue Jays. He was strong in the field and better in the batter’s box. Margot went 3/7 overall but was the Rays’ best overall hitter.
Tampa Bay Rays’ Pitcher of the Week
1 W, 0.00 ERA, 9 K, 0.53 WHIP
Snellzilla looks like he’s had a true return to form. Expect him to be the Rays’ opening starter for series to come.
The Tampa Bay Rays are on a one-way track to a clash with another divisional rival. And this matchup will bring some bad blood back to the surface.
The New York Yankees cut down the Cleveland Indians in a two-game sweep of their own. The Yankees got strong starting pitching from Gerrit Cole. However, he wasn’t the star of the series.
The Yankees’ bats came alive against one of the strongest pitching staffs in the American League. They shelled Indians’ ace Shane Bieber for seven runs over just four and 2/3 innings. In Game Two, the Yankees went off for another 10 total runs in a barnburner that went down to the wire after a long weather delay.
With all that said, I think the Rays have a really good chance to move on the AL Championship Series. The Rays dominated the Yankees in the regular season, and they took down the Blue Jays using that same formula.
Now that the Yankees are back at full strength, the series will be tough. But I’m confident that these Rays can get it done. Rays Up!
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