After holding on to defeat the Toronto Blue Jays on Friday, 11-7, the Tampa Bay Rays look to win their fifth straight series, as well as extend their win streak on Saturday.
The Rays set season highs in runs scored (11) and home runs (5) last night and now have plated 35 runs in the past four games. They have also scored 69 in 14 games this season, for nearly five runs per game (RPG).
Tampa Bay continued to score early runs last night, thanks in part to three home runs by Austin Meadows (2) and Brandon Lowe (1) in the first three frames.
In the first inning, Meadows hit a leadoff homer to right.
It was the seventh consecutive contest in which the Rays had scored in the first, extending a franchise record. If you’re counting, Tampa Bay has outscored opponents 18-1 in the first, making them the first American League team to score in the opening inning in seven consecutive games in 13 years (Cleveland, 2006).
Then, Meadows led off the third by belting a massive 436-foot blast to right field of Thornton. It was his sixth homer of the season and fourth in three games. Three batters later, after Yandy Diaz earned a free pass, Lowe crushed a ball essentially into the same spot.
Per Neil Solondz (Rays Radio), going into Friday’s action, only 20 homers had been hit into the 500 level at the Rogers Centre since it opened in 1989, and only three to right field. In the third inning, two Rays left-handed hitters belted balls up there.
Lowe went on to mash his second homer of the night in the seventh inning, while Willy Adames hit an important two-run blast in the ninth (his first of the season) en route to an 11 run walloping.
Still, Yonny Chirinos and Diego Castillo almost let the game slip away. For this I turn to Solondz, who succinctly recapped the dramatic seventh and eighth innings when things got out of hand:
But it almost got away, as Toronto scored six runs in the seventh against Yonny Chirinos, who threw a scoreless fifth and sixth. Justin Smoak walked, Randall Grichuk singled to center and Teoscar Hernandez doubled to left-center, scoring a run to get the Blue Jays on the board. Lourdes Gurriel Jr then doubled to left, bringing home two more runs to make it 8–3. After a Richard Urena groundout moved Gurriel to third, Alen Hanson singled in a run to make it 8–4. Former Rays player Luke Maile followed with an opposite-field homer, a two-run shot, making it 8–6.
Adam Kolarek entered, and got the second out, then allowed a double to Freddy Galvis. Diego Castillo followed, and two pitches later Galvis was thrown out trying to move to third on a ball in the dirt, ending the rally. The play looked close, but the Jays didn’t ask to have the play reviewed.
Then in the eighth against Castillo, the Jays got runners to first and third with one out. However, the righty struck out pinch-hitter Rowdy Tellez, but Urena hit a ground ball through the legs of Ji-Man Choi for a two-base error. Smoak scored, making it 8–7. Hanson was walked intentionally to load the bases, and Maile had the count at 3–0, then took three straight strikes, and struck out looking to end the frame.— Neil Solondz
Jose Alvarado came on in the ninth inning and plowed through Toronto’s lineup in order, fanning two while coaxing the game-ending ground-out from Justin Smoak on a 98 mph sinker. Alvarado pounded the zone, throwing nine of his 10 pitches for strikes. The Rays still have not allowed a ninth-inning run this season.
The New What Next
Blake Snell (2-1, 2.84 ERA) will get the start for the Rays in the second game of the series, pitching opposite of Clay Buchholz, who makes his first start for Toronto.
Blake Snell allowed just a single run on six hits across the first six frames. He didn’t walk a batter and struck out 11.
Snell fanned five of the first six batters he faced and didn’t allow a runner beyond second base until the fifth inning when he gave up a two-out homer to left to Jose Rondon.
The reigning AL Cy Young Award winner got in trouble in the sixth inning, nevertheless, Mr. .083 BA wRISP did not break. Snell allowed a double to Leury Garcia to start the inning and an infield hit to Tim Anderson that glanced off of Snell’s glove, putting runners at the corners. However, the southpaw buckled down and struck out Jose Abreu, Welington Castillo, and Yoan Moncada to keep the lead intact.
Snell has now struck out 24 batters in his last two starts, the most he’s ever had in back-to-back outings. Snell coaxed 24 swings and misses, after a career-high 25 in his last start.
Clay Buchholz went 7-2 with a 2.01 ERA in 16 starts before his arm wore down last season and was placed on the injured list with a right flexor strain. After signing a $3-million deal with Toronto in the offseason, followed by a minor league rehab assignment to finish off Spring Training, Buchholz is ready for his first start of the season. In his words, expect a wily pitcher that tries to keep hitters off balance.
I’ve evolved into a different kind of pitcher. I’ve proven you don’t have to throw 98 to get guys out. You have to throw four pitches for strikes, mix it up, and keep guys off balance. That’s what I do.— Clay Buchholz
Last season Buchholz relied primarily on an 86 mph cutter, and a 91 mph four-seam fastball, while also mixing in a 76 mph curveball, a 78 mph circle changeup, and a 91 mph sinker. He is 9-8 with a 2.67 ERA in 23 career outings (21 starts) against Tampa Bay.
You can read about the series in our preview.
Rays 4/13/19 Starting Lineup
- Meadows RF
- Pham LF
- Choi 1B
- Diaz 3B
- Lowe 2B
- Garcia DH
- Kiermaier CF
- Zunino C
- Adames SS
- Snell LHP
— Free on Sunday?
On Sunday, April 14, 2019 X-Rays Spex and Golden Dinosaurs Vegan Deli will team up to host a shirt release celebration and Rays watch party, when the Tampa Bay Rays take on the Toronto Blue Jays, in Toronto. We’re bringing all the camaraderie of the game, and some delicious foodstuffs, at one of the areas best new restaurants!
First pitch is scheduled for 1:07 pm, so be sure to get down to Golden Dinosaurs early to grab a bite to eat and an ice-cold brew. Don’t forget to snatch our newest shirt design (pictured) titled “The Legend of Dan Johnson,” so you can wear it to the Trop the following weekend when our guys take on the reigning World Series champs.
Throughout the afternoon Golden Dinosaurs will offer some select specials. We’ll also raffle off some great Rays swag between the innings, among other fantastic things.
See you April 14, and be sure to tell a friend!
— INF Joey Wendle reportedly had a good day running Friday at Tropicana Field and is tentatively slated to start a short rehab (or extended spring) assignment in Port Charlotte in the middle of the week, with the idea of rejoining the Rays for the weekend series vs. Boston.
— On Saturday, Jose De Leon, who is rehabbing from Tommy John surgery, will throw in a game for the first time since before being hurt in spring training 2018. He is expected to throw one inning or 25 pitches in an extended spring appearance.
— Because Marc Topkin (Tampa Bay Times) said it … it’s narrow parameters, but the Rays are the fifth team in the past 10 years to double their opponents’ runs through the first 13 games, 58-26. What’s interesting is that the other four all made the playoffs: 2009 Dodgers, ’12 Rangers, ’13 Braves, ’16 Cubs.