The Tampa Bay Rays rode the momentum of Tyler Glasnow's first start since May, as the Rays swept the Toronto Blue Jays out of St. Petersburg with an 8-2 win Sunday at Tropicana Field.
The Rays have now won five straight, as they maintained their lead in the American League wild card standings.
Any fears that Rays Manager Kevin Cash had when Glasnow started Sunday's game were quickly alleviated as Glasnow struck out the first batter he faced, Bo Bichette, on three pitches.
Glasnow then struck out the second hitter, Teoscar Hernandez, on four pitches.
And then it took five pitches for Glasnow to strike out Rowdy Tellez.
But then came the second inning.
After Austin Meadows put the Rays up 1-0 in the bottom of the first with a solo homer off Jays' starter Jacob Waguespack, Glasnow walked the leadoff hitter, Vlad Guerrero Jr. And as for the Rays and their 2019 season, leadoff walks they issue usually come around to score.
And Guerrero did score on a moonshot two-run homer to straightaway center field by Randal Grichuk, giving the Rays a 2-1 lead.
Glasnow's second inning continued, with a walk to Brandon Drury sandwiched between strikeouts to Jonathan Davis and Richard Urena, and a Danny Jansen popout.
In all, Glasnow pitched those two innings, allowing those two runs, striking out five and walking two. The Rays and Cash had to be encouraged by the performance, as they fight for a wild card berth down the stretch.
The Rays retook the lead in the bottom of the second, and never let go. Ji-Man Choi and Travis d'Arnaud opened the inning by walking, then were summarily wiped from the basepaths on back-to-back fielder's choice groundouts by Kevin Kiermaier and Willy Adames. But David Robertson cleared the bases, and gave the Rays a 3-2 lead with a long triple to left center field.
Tampa Bay added three more in the fifth. Joey Wendle led off the inning with a single, and with one out, Tommy Pham singled as well. Then Avi Garcia brought home Wendle with a grounds-rule double to right center field. Ji-Man Choi then followed with a sacrifice fly, bringing in Pham, and then d'Arnaud drove Garcia in with yet another double.
Garcia added two more for the Rays in the seventh with a two-run homer, extending the Rays' lead to 8-2.
Vlad Guerrero Jr. added the final run of the game for the Jays in the top of the ninth with an RBI single off Anthony Banda, who made his return to the Rays following Tommy John surgery.
In all, it was a very positive result for the Rays, who had to feel even more confident as they knocked one more game off their schedule, edging closer to the end of the season and a playoff spot. And by that time, they just might be set up to surprise a lot of people.
*The Rays pitching staff now has 1,438 strikeouts on the season, matching a team record, with 17 games still remaining in the season.
*The Rays went 9-1 this homestand, also tying a team record.
*Trevor Richards got the win in relief, pitching two and two-thirds innings and allowing only one hit. It's his second win as a Ray. He's now 5-12 on the season.
*The Rays have an off day on Monday, and will start an eight-game road trip Tuesday, visiting Texas to play the Rangers, and then travel to California to play the two Los Angeles teams, the Angels and Dodgers.