Hunter Renfroe broke the game open with a second-inning grand slam — the first-ever postseason grand slam in Tampa Bay Rays franchise history — in the second game of the American League Wildcard Series, as the Rays rolled past the Toronto Blue Jays on Wednesday, 8-2, at Tropicana Field. Next stop: San Diego, where the Rays will face either Cleveland or the Yankees in the American League Division Series.
Tyler Glasnow got the start on Wednesday and posted six innings of two-run baseball on six hits (including two solo homers) and one walk while striking out eight.
We showed the potential of what we can do on both sides of the ball. Obviously, in Game 1 we had Blake throw an absolute gem and we were able to scrape enough runs to win, and today showed the bats coming alive and Tyler allowing just two and the bullpen keeping it where it was. I think it just solidifies who we are as a team.— Mike Zunino
After a 1-2-3 first, Glasnow worked around a pair of singles in the top of the second, yet without incurring any damage. Then, staked to a seven-run lead in the third inning, Danny Jansen launched a solo home run off the right-hander that left a dent in the catwalk above the left-field stands. Bo Bichette followed by earning a walk, but Glasnow buckled down and the Jays settled for just a run. In the fifth inning, Jansen blasted another lead-off solo shot yet that is all he would, or the Rays, allow. Glasnow finished his outing having thrown 86 pitches (55 strikes, 64% strike rate, 20% SwStr%). He held Toronto to 0-for-8 with four punchies with runners in scoring position.
It feels great. We had a bunch of confidence going into this. Everyone went out there with no pressure, just kind of loose like we’ve been all year. Especially in that second inning, just to watch the momentum and the adrenaline from the grand slam, it was a pretty special moment.— Tyler Glasnow
Offensively, Tampa Bay struck first against Hyun-jin Ryu. Mike Brosseau led off the game with a base hit to left, however, he was thrown out trying to stretch a single into a double. Randy Arozarena followed with a base hit to center, then went to third on a single to right off the bat of Brandon Lowe. After Yandy Díaz struck out in his first at-bat off the Injured List, Manuel Margot poked a single through the right side for an early one-run lead.
In the second inning, Kevin Kiermaier slapped a single to center before Mike Zunino blasted an 88 mph 0-2 fastball into section 145, putting the Rays up by three.
The hit parade continued with one out. Arozarena doubled to right-center before Díaz walked. Margot followed, reaching on Bichette’s second error in as many innings, loading the bases for Hunter Renfroe, who launched a grand slam to left on a 1-1 cutter for a seven-run lead, chasing Ryu.
Tampa Bay capped the scoring, answering Jansen’s first home run. With reliever Ross Stripling on the bump, Brosseau hit a one-out single to center in the third. Arozarena came up with another double, this time down the left-field line, scoring Brosseau from first.
Aaron Loup got two outs in relief of Glasnow in the seventh, working around a leadoff hit. Ryan Thompson got the next four batters, including two strikeouts, while Nick Anderson finished off Toronto with a five-pitch ninth inning.
The ALDS will take place at Petco Park, in San Diego, starting Monday. The Rays will head out west on Saturday with a full head of steam.
Every win in the postseason is that much more (momentum). We played good right at the end of the year and got where we needed to be from a pitching standpoint. Now, it’s just trying to ride that wave of momentum, and these guys do an unbelievable job at creating that.— Kevin Cash
Stay tuned, we will follow with more Rays postseason news and updates as the week continues to progress toward Monday.