Tuesday, September 29, 2020

Wild Card game #1 - Toronto Blue Jays (0-1) @ Tampa Bay Rays (1-0) - game recap

Bo Bichette drove in the Blue Jays only run with a sac fly as the Rays took the first game of the best-of-3 wild card series 3-1

The Blue Jays were relegated to the last playoff spot after losing the season finale, meaning they have to face the Tampa Bay Rays in St. Petersburg, a location that has not been kind historically to the Blue Jays. Matt Shoemaker got the start in the opener (presumably to give Hyun-jin Ryu an extra day of rest after he threw 100 pitches and went 7 innings Friday. Vlad go the start at 1B, while Alejandro Kirk became the youngest player to DH in a playoff game with Danny Jansen behind the plate. Jonathan Villar was at 2b with Cavan Biggio playing the hot corner. Everyone else was in their expected positions. Could the Blue Jays steal the 1st game of this series and prove Montoyo's gamble of not starting his ace in the 1st game right? Here is today's game recap.

Game Highlights:

  • Matt Shoemaker pitching line: 3IP 2H 0R 0BB 2K 35 pitches (27 for strikes)
  • The Rays opened the scoring in the bottom of the 4th on a wild pitch by Robbie Ray that scored Randy Arozarena
  • Blake Snell pitching line: 5.1IP 1H 0R 2BB 9K 82 pitches (48 for strikes)
  • The Rays added a pair of runs in the bottom of the 7th as Miguel Margot lined a 2-run blast to left; also scoring Joey Wendle
  • The Blue Jays got one back in the top of the 8th on a sac fly by Bo Bichette that scored Rowdy Tellez
  • Pete Fairbank pitched the 9th for his 1st save of the postseason
  • Final score: Rays 3 Blue Jays 1

My Take:

  • Matt Shoemaker did his part, firing three shutouts innings, allowing just 2 hits. He was pulled after three innings in favor of lefty Robbie Ray, who held the Rays to a run on a wild pitch, a walk and a hit over three innings. AJ Cole allowed a back-breaking 2-run home run in the 7th after the Rays escaped a Blue Jays threat in the 7th. Ryan Borucki and Thomas Hatch got the final 5 Rays in order to give the Blue Jays a fighting chance. Charlie Montoyo gambled that Shoemaker and the bullpen could hold the Rays offense enough for the Blue Jays to steal game 1, leaving ace Hyun-jin Ryu a chance to close out the series. Ultimately, the gamble could backfire because of one big mistake pitch at the wrong time
  • Offensively, the Blue Jays bats were pretty quiet. Leadoff man Cavan Biggio went 1-4, but struck out 3 times. Another gamble saw rookie catcher Alejandro Kirk inserted as DH ahead of the big bat of Rowdy Tellez, who came up with a pinch hit double, albeit with nobody on base. Look for his bat in the lineup tomorrow. The Blue Jays best chances to score came in innings 7-9. They were 1-4 with runners in scoring position
  • As has been a common theme this season, the bottom 4 of the lineup went a paltry 2-13 (just a 5th inning walk by Teoscar Hernandez (who later struck out looking at a clear strike 3 in the 9th), a single in the 6th by Kirk and a pinch hit double by Tellez with nobody on base in the 8th
  • To be frank, the top half of the lineup didn't do much either. Vlad and Lourdes Gurriel Jr. were the only ones to get on base more than once
  • Up next, the Blue Jays play their 1st elimination game. They turn to ace Hyun-jin Ryu to pitch lights out. The Rays will counter with righty Tyler Glasnow