The Toronto Blue Jays will take on the Tampa Bays Rays in the opening round of the Major League Baseball playoffs, starting Tuesday at Tropicana Field.
The Blue Jays clinched a playoff spot last week and had a chance to climb as high as the No. 5 seed in the American League with a win over Baltimore on Sunday, coupled with a loss by the New York Yankees.
The Yankees lost 5-0 to Miami but Toronto also ended their regular season with a defeat, falling 7-5 against the Orioles.
Just making the playoffs is an incredible achievement for the Jays, who went 32-28, given how the novel coronavirus pandemic completely turned the 2020 MLB season on its head and ultimately forced Toronto to play their home games in Buffalo.
Can the Blue Jays beat the top-seeded Rays in the best-of-three wild card series? It won’t be easy, but it’s not impossible.
Toronto went 4-6 versus Tampa Bay this year — four of those six losses were decided by one run — and the Jays won just three of their seven visits to Tropicana Field, but they did outscore the Rays 48-44.
Being a three-game series, it goes without saying that winning Game 1 is going to be massive, and so will pitching.
Tampa Bay is going to start Blake Snell, Tyler Glasnow and Charlie Morton, if necessary, while Blue Jays manager Charlie Montoyo was still mulling over his playoff rotation as of Sunday.
Hyun-Jin Ryu, who threw a season-high 100 pitches in last Thursday’s playoff clinching victory over the Yanks, should get the ball in Game 1.
Montoyo’s mulling is unnecessary.
In three starts against Tampa this year, Ryu went 1-0, had a 2.57 earned run average, gave up just 10 hits, struck out 14 batters and walked only three.
He is also the team’s ace, he was a team-best 5-2 this season, and was signed by the Jays for important games like Tuesday’s series opener.
Rick Zamperin is the assistant program, news and senior sports director at Global News Radio 900 CHML.