Blake Snell threw five perfect innings on just 47 pitches (33 strikes, 70% strike rate, 12/15 first-pitch strikes) in his second start since returning from the disabled list. That, paired with an offense that came alive after six quiet home games against Chicago and Baltimore, allowed Tampa Bay to cruise to a 7-0 victory over the Blue Jays, in Toronto.
Any questions about Snell should have been answered Friday night when the southpaw collected six strikeouts and was very sharp overall, showing pitchability by keeping the Blue Jays off-balance throughout five innings of work. Snell was on a pitch limit to help him recover from the shoulder fatigue that sidelined him following the All-Star Break, and he likely will continue to be for one to two more starts until he is fully stretched out again. Even so, Snell dominated Toronto’s lineup, throwing five perfect innings.
The left-hander earned his 13th win of the season, his first since July 7th against the New York Mets, and lowered his ERA to 2.18 and his FIP to 3.41 in the process.
Meanwhile, the youth movement full steam ahead last night. In fact, it was the first time in franchise history the Rays started rookies at all five infield positions. And while it a appeared the Rays were in for another quiet night after Marco Estrada put down the first seven hitters in order, Willy Adames’ one-out walk in the third inning set up Michael Perez’s first big league homer — a laser shot just over the right-field wall.
That gave the Rays a lead they would never relinquish.
Adames continued to be productive, leading off the fifth inning with a double. Two batters later, Mallex Smith hit his league-leading ninth triple of the season, a run-scoring gapper to left-center.
Give @RaysBaseball Mallex Smith space in the gap and he’ll make you pay for it. Smith hits his 9th triple of the season and drives in Willy Adames. Catch all of the action on FOX Sports Sun. #RaysUp #MLB pic.twitter.com/Wi2B3pBG8x
— FOX Sports Florida (@FOXSportsFL) August 11, 2018
Joey Wendle drove in the Rays fourth run of the game four pitches later on a sacrifice fly.
Then in the sixth inning, after falling behind in the count 0-2, Ji-Man Choi hit a lead-off solo shot to right — his second in as many nights.
The Rays chased Marco Estrada in the sixth after he struck out Carlos Gomez, as the right-hander gave up five earned runs on five hits (including two home runs) over 5-1/3 innings of work.
But Tampa Bay wasn’t done, and it again started with Adames, who singled his way on base to start the frame. Perez followed with a single before Smith bunted both runners into scoring position. Wendle followed, driving in a pair of runs on a double to left center, putting the Rays up by seven.
After Snell was pulled, Jake Faria took the mound for the first time in 10 days and pitched three shutout innings in relief. The right-hander struck out three while allowing a walk and three hits. He was followed by Jaime Schultz, who pitched a perfect ninth inning to seal the win.
The New What Next
The Rays look to win the series on Saturday afternoon. Ryne Stanek (1-3, 2.56 ERA) will open the game for Tampa Bay and will be followed by Ryan Yarbrough (10-5, 4.24 ERA) (not Faria since he pitched in the opener). They’ll be opposed by Sam Gaviglio (1-4, 5.25 ERA).
Gaviglio allowed three earned runs on seven hits and three walks while fanning seven across 5-2/3 innings Sunday against Seattle — falling one out shy of a quality start and was pulled after 89 pitches and walking consecutive batters in the sixth inning. His seven strikeouts (including 11 swinging strikes) marked his second-best performance in an outing this season. While Gaviglio has a solid 74 strikeouts across 78 frames this season, he has only two quality starts in 15 chances and has struggled to post useful peripherals (5.08 ERA, 1.44 WHIP). He allowed five earned runs on seven hits (including a home run) over 3-1/3 innings in his last start against the Rays and is 1-1 with a 6.48 ERA in two career starts against the good guys. Key Matchups: Willy Adames (1-1, RBI), Jake Bauers (2-2, 2B, HR, 2 RBI), Matt Duffy (2-3), Mallex Smith (1-2, RBI), Joey Wendle (1-1, RBI)
You can read about the series in our preview.
Rays 8/11/18 Starting Lineup
— The Rays start the day nine games behind the Athletics for the second Wildcard spot and seven-and-a-half behind the Mariners.