Rays Use Big Second Inning Against Blue Jays to Advance to ALDS

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Rays 8, Blue Jays 2

The Tampa Bay Rays struck early to make the Toronto Blue Jays playoff stay a short one. After a quick top of the first, the Rays put together four singles but were only able to record one run. The second inning was where the big damage was done. Mike Zunino hit an 0-2 fastball out to left to take a 3-0 lead, but they were not done. Six batters later, Hunter Renfroe roped a grand slam just inside the foul pole to take a 7-0 lead.  Danny Jansen hit two long solo home runs for the Blue Jays but that wouldn’t be nearly enough.

The starting pitching was as lopsided as the score. Tyler Glasnow went six strong innings as he kept the Blue Jays from mounting any sort of threat. Meanwhile, Hyun-Jin Ryu couldn’t make it out of the second inning after yielding seven runs on eight hits.

Surprising Power

There would have been no shock to see home runs in this series. However, Mike Zunino and Danny Jansen are two names most wouldn’t expect to see trotting around the bases. Both catchers have cemented themselves as glorified nine-hole hitters who handle the catching duties. No one would have imagined the two of them combining for three home runs in Game Two. Jansen’s third inning blast was loud as it rang off the D-Ring and his second one wasn’t cheap either. Any offense these two provide for their club is an added bonus.

Rays Big Second Inning

Crooked numbers have been hard to come by in the early stages of the playoffs. The Rays would change that in the home half of the second. Kevin Kiermaier led off the frame with the Rays fifth single of the game which brought up Zunino. After swinging through two straight hittable fastballs, Ryu went to the well one too many times. Zunino squared it up and drove it over the left field wall for a 3-0 lead.

With two outs, Manuel Margot‘s speed caused Bo Bichette to rush on a routine ground ball, causing a costly bobble and the inning to continue. Hunter Renfroe would make it hurt, keeping a cutter fair down the left field line for the Ray’s first ever playoff grand slam. The six runs in the inning is the most runs in a single inning so far in the playoffs by any team.

Rising Star

The Rays always seem to win on their trades and they may have found another star in Randy Arozarena. His power and speed combination has been on display in the last month of the season and it has continued into the post season. He went 3-4 with two doubles in Game Two and will continue to get opportunities going forward especially with the absence of Austin Meadows. In only 78 regular season at-bats, he hit seven home runs and had an OPS of 1.022.

Up Next

The Tampa Bay Rays will be traveling out west to San Diego and are awaiting the New York Yankees.  With Charlie Morton being fresh, it’s hard to assume he won’t get the ball in Game One. Blake Snell and Tyler Glasnow should slide into the second and third slot.  Date and game time have yet to be determined.

Main Photo: Embed from Getty Images