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

Alberta Premier Jason Kenney. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
Jason Kenney urges federal government to push U.S. for surplus COVID-19 vaccines

‘It makes no sense for our neighbours and regional states to be sitting on doses that we cannot use,’ the premier said

Alberta reported an additional 1,980 cases of COVID-19 Friday. (NIAID-RML via AP)
Red Deer adds 37th death from COVID-19, active cases drop

Alberta Health identified an additional 1,980 cases of the virus province-wide

Alberta Premier Jason Kenney (File photo by THE CANADIAN PRESS)
Kenney to announce plan for truckers to get COVID-19 vaccinations in nearby states

Alberta is approaching 25,000 active cases of COVID-19, and there are more than 600 people in hospital with the illness

Alberta’s chief medical officer of health Dr. Deena Hinshaw asked Albertans to limit travel throughout the province as COVID-19 cases continue to rise. (Photo by Chris Schwarz/Government of Alberta)
Red Deer nears 900 active COVID-19 cases

Province reports additional 2,211 COVID-19 cases

swim
Stay safe this summer – don’t overlook swimming lessons

National Summer Safety Week runs May 1st – 7th

Jennifer Coffman, owner of Truffle Pigs in Field, B.C., poses beside her business sign on Thursday, May 6, 2021, in this handout photo. Her restaurant and lodge have been hit hard by a closure of a section of the Trans-Canada Highway and by the British Columbia government discouraging Alberta residents from visiting during the pandemic. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO-Jennifer Coffman, *MANDATORY CREDIT*
‘Why we survive’: B.C. boundary towns struggle without Albertans during pandemic

Jennifer Coffman’s restaurant is located in the tiny community of Field, which relies on tourism

A rodeo south of Bowden drew a huge crowd on May 1 and 2, 2021. (Photo courtesy Mom’s Diner’s Facebook page)
Amazon is pausing its Prime Day marketing event in Canada this year amid ongoing COVID-19 outbreaks at its facilities in Ontario. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Amazon Prime Day halted in Canada due to COVID-19 outbreaks in warehouses

The event was postponed to protect the health and safety of employees and customers, the company says

Big truck semi trailer moves on the highway towards sunset
Alberta’s cross-border truckers to be vaccinated at Montana rest stop

2,000 Alberta truck drivers who transport goods across the border will be able to receive the Johnson & Johnson vaccine in Montana

Road sign on Highway 1 west of Hope warns drivers of COVID-19 essential travel road checks on the highways into the B.C. Interior. (Jessica Peters/Chilliwack Progress)
B.C. residents want travel checks at Alberta border, MLA says

Police road checks in place at highways out of Vancouver area

People line up outside an immunization clinic to get their Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine in Edmonton, Tuesday, April 20, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
Hospital investigating whether Alberta woman who died after AstraZeneca shot was turned away

Woman was taken off life support 12 days after getting vaccine

Two passengers were recently fined thousands of dollars after they faked their pre-flight COVID-19 test results. (Paul Clarke/Black Press)
2 passengers in Canada fined thousands for faking pre-flight COVID-19 tests

The government issued a warning Thursday to others thinking of doing the same – do it and you’ll be ordered to pay

Most Read