Rays' Snell continues Cy Young bid versus Blue Jays
The left-hander will try for No. 21 on Sunday afternoon in the finale of a four-game series with the Toronto Blue Jays at the Rogers Centre. The Rays will be going for a split in the series after losing 5-2 on Saturday. They lead the season set 10-5.
Snell allowed one hit in five innings against the Rangers in tying David Price's club record for wins and becoming the first 20-game winner in the majors since 2016. Price won No. 20 in his final start of the season in 2012 and took the American League Cy Young Award. Obviously, Snell is one of the top contenders for the award this season.
Snell (20-5, 1.97 ERA) will face Blue Jays left-hander Ryan Borucki (4-4, 3.86).
Snell helped the Rays (86-68) enter contention for a wild-card spot in the American League. Two losses in three games to the Blue Jays, however, has been a big setback for the Rays, who are on the verge of elimination.
"We've had to play very well for the last couple of months and the wild card wasn't in the discussion outside the clubhouse until recently," Rays infielder Joey Wendle said after the game Saturday. "We played our tails off to get into contention and we'll continue to do that and see what happens."
Snell has won eight consecutive decisions, tied for the second longest streak in franchise history behind Matt Moore's nine from Sept. 29, 2012 to May 19, 2013. He has won a club-record eight straight starts (without a no-decision in between), the only pitcher to do that in the majors this season.
The 25-year-old is 3-2 with a 3.86 ERA in six career starts against the Blue Jays and is 2-1 with a 4.08 ERA in four starts at the Rogers Centre. He has faced the Blue Jays once this season and was removed after five perfect innings on Aug. 10 at Toronto, his second start back from the disabled list. He threw only 47 pitches (33 strikes) in the outing.
"It's cool," Snell said after winning No. 20. "It means we've been playing good team baseball when I pitch. Guys have been helping me -- swinging it, playing defense, the bullpen has been coming in clutch. And I've been doing well as well. There's a lot. I haven't thought about it honestly."
Snell also emerged from his start against the Rangers with five strikeouts to reach 200 for the season.
"Pretty special that he got his 20th win and 200th strikeout on the same day," Rays manager Kevin Cash said. "He deserves all the credit that he's getting right now. People are noticing for good reason. To go and get the wins he has against some really, really strong teams and what he's done recently has to put him in strong consideration (for the Cy Young Award)," Cash said.
In Borucki, the Blue Jays have a promising young pitcher of their own. He is 1-1 with a 1.77 ERA in three starts in September. The rookie allowed two runs in six innings of a 4-0 loss on Sept. 4 in his only appearance against the Rays. He will be making the 16th start of his major league career Sunday.
The Blue Jays are getting good play from some September callups such as Rowdy Tellez, who had three hits, including a two-run homer and three RBIs on Saturday.
And left-hander Thomas Pannone improved his record to 4-1 with a 3.58 ERA after holding the Rays to two runs in 6 2/3 innings Saturday in his fifth major league start. It was the third straight quality start for the 24-year-old -- all against good teams in the Indians, Yankees and Rays.
"It definitely gives me the confidence that I know my stuff can play here facing good lineups, good hitters, and I'm turning them over pretty well," Pannone said. "I just want to continue doing that."
The Blue Jays (71-84) have won six of their past eight games.