A capsule look at the Blue Jays-Rays playoff series
A capsule look at the best-of-three playoff series between the Toronto Blue Jays and Tampa Bay Rays in St. Petersburg, Florida, beginning Tuesday.
TORONTO BLUE JAYS
Playoff Entry: AL wild card.
Playoff Seed: No. 8.
Manager: Charlie Montoyo (second season).
Projected Rotation: RHP Matt Shoemaker (0-1, 4.71 ERA), LHP Hyun Jin Ryu (5-2, 2.69), RHP Taijuan Walker (4-3, 2.70 with Seattle and Toronto).
Top Hitters: OF Teoscar Hernandez (.289, 16 HRs, 34 RBIs), OF Lourdes Gurriel Jr. (.308, 11, 33), OF Randal Grichuk (.273, 12, 35).
Top Relievers: RHP Anthony Bass (2-3, 3.51 ERA, 7 saves), RHP Rafael Dolis (2-2, 1.50, 5 saves).
Series Summary: The Blue Jays make their eighth trip to the postseason and first since 2016, when they lost in the ALCS for the second straight year. Barred from playing home games north of the border because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Blue Jays began the season with an extended road trip before moving into Sahlen Field in Buffalo, New York, home of their Triple-A affiliate. Toronto went 18-10 during a midseason stretch of 28 games in 27 days, solidifying its postseason credentials. The Blue Jays overcame injuries to closer Ken Giles (elbow surgery), Hernandez (strained oblique), Bichette (knee) and others to take advantage of the expanded playoff format. Toronto and Tampa Bay have not previously met in the playoffs. The Blue Jays went 4-6 against the Rays this season, with four games settled in extra innings and five decided by a single run. Four of Tampa Bay’s wins were one-run games. The combined margin of defeat in Toronto’s six losses was nine runs. Only one meeting, a 12-4 Toronto win on Aug. 14, had more than a three-run margin. ... Montoyo spent more than two decades in the Rays organization as a minor league manager and major league coach. ... Ryu gets an extra day of rest after throwing 100 pitches over seven innings in Thursday’s playoff clincher against the Yankees.
TAMPA BAY RAYS
Playoff Entry: AL East champions.
Playoff Seed: No. 1.
Manager: Kevin Cash (sixth season).
Projected Rotation: LHP Blake Snell (4-2, 3.24 ERA, 63 Ks in 50 IP), RHP Tyler Glasnow (5-1, 4.08, 91 Ks in 57 1/3 IP), RHP Charlie Morton (2-2, 4.74, 42 Ks in 38 IP).
Top Hitters: 2B Brandon Lowe (.269, 14 HRs, 37 RBIs, 36 runs, .916 OPS), SS Willy Adames (.259, 8, 23, .813 OPS).
Top Relievers: RHP Nick Anderson (2-1, 0.55 ERA, 6 saves), RHP Pete Fairbanks (6-3, 2.70), RHP Diego Castillo (3-0, 1.66, 4 saves).
Series Summary: The Rays are AL East champions for first time since 2010, third time overall. They won nine of their final 11 games, finishing 20 games over .500 and completing the best 60-game start to a season in franchise history. It also matched the best 60-game stretch the club has had at any point in a season. ... The Rays went 6-4 against wild-card opponent Toronto despite being outscored 48-44 and outhomered 17-11 by the Blue Jays in the 10 games. In addition, Blue Jays starting pitchers posted a lower ERA (3.83 vs. 4.04) and Toronto’s bullpen had a lower ERA in head-to-head meetings (3.54 to 4.44). ... All 10 matchups came within the first 30 games of the season. The AL East rivals haven’t faced each other since Aug. 24. ... The Rays begin the postseason without OF Austin Meadows (left oblique strain), a first-time All-Star in 2019 who is on the injured list. INF Yandy Diaz (hamstring) and 1B Ji-Man Choi (hamstring) are on the IL, too, but closer to returning. ... The Rays have thrived despite injuries that forced Cash to juggle his rotation and tinker with bullpen roles. The team had 12 pitchers earn at least one save, matching the major league record set by the 1973 Rangers. ... The Rays also led the AL with 20 comeback wins. ... Tampa Bay also made the playoffs last year, beating Oakland in the AL wild-card game before losing to Houston in the Division Series.
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