Ryan Borucki may have lost Round 1, but he’s already eyeing his next matchup against Blake Snell.
Snell came out on top of a young pitchers’ duel against Borucki, winning his MLB-leading 21st game as the Tampa Bay Rays downed the Toronto Blue Jays 5-2 on Sunday.
Watch C.J. Cron’s solid day at the plate for Tampa:
Snell shut out the Jays (71-85) over 6 2/3 innings of work, limiting them to three hits and two walks with 11 strikeouts.
Fellow lefty Borucki gave up two runs, three hits and four walks across seven innings while striking out seven. The 24-year-old picked up his 11th quality outing in his 15th start but dropped to 4-5.
“He pitched a really good game,” Borucki said of the AL Cy Young candidate.
“He had all of his stuff working, kept us off balance and did a really good job. I was just trying to keep this thing as close as we could. I had a couple of costly errors that cost me a couple of runs, but, yeah, that’s just how it goes — he’s a pretty good pitcher.
“He’s only going to start getting better. This is just the beginning for him and I’m looking forward to having some more battles with him,” he added.
The 25-year-old Snell was replaced by right-hander Chaz Roe in the seventh for one out. Andrew Kittredge gave up two earned runs in 2/3 of an inning, Ryan Stanek came in for an out to close out the eighth and Sergio Romo pitched a scoreless ninth for his 23rd save.
Snell just a ‘little bit better’ than Borucki
Joe Biagini spelled Borucki in the eighth, giving up a solo home run in 2/3 of an inning. Jose Fernandez gave up two earned runs in 1/3 of an inning. David Paulino pitched a perfect ninth for the Blue Jays
C.J. Cron was 2 for 4 with an RBI double and hit his 28th home run on solo blast, Brandon Lowe hit a two-run shot and Joey Wendle added an RBI double to provide the scoring for the Rays (87-68).
Aldemys Diaz was 1 for 4 with an RBI single and Lourdes Gurriel Jr. had an RBI ground out as the Jays picked up two late runs.
Blue Jays manager John Gibbons said Borucki was “great,” but Snell was just a “little bit better” and commended his starter for his ability to adapt to a left-handed heavy Rays lineup by using his slider and mixing in his change-up.
“Early on, he was attacking pretty good with a really good breaking ball,” said Gibbons.
“Bottomline, he can pitch. He’s got a feel for what he’s doing, so that’ll take him a long way.”
Snell sets franchise record
Snell’s 21st victory gave him the Rays’ single-season franchise record, passing David Price’s 20 wins in 2012.
“It means a lot. He’s a great pitcher, very accomplished. To be able to beat it, it’s crazy to me,” said Snell, who lowered his AL-leading ERA to 1.90.
Rays centre fielder Kevin Kiermaier said the case should be closed on Snell’s bid for the Cy Young.
“If today wasn’t the final nod, then I don’t know what is. I mean, the guy is just absolutely dominant,” he said.
“I think I’ll be telling my grandkids that I played behind him.”
Borucki cruised until the fourth inning when he ran into some trouble when Wendel doubled in Tommy Pham for a 1-0 lead.
The Rays picked up their second run in the sixth frame on Cron’s ground-rule double to right field to score Pham.
After Borucki got the hook in eighth, Cron connected on a solo jack to left-centre field to extend Tampa’s lead to 3-0.
Lowe tacked on another two runs, hitting a two-run blast off Fernandez, who replaced Biagini.
Too little, too late
Toronto manufactured some offence in the eighth to bring some life back into the 23,944 fans in attendance.
The Jays put a man on third and second after back-to-back singles. Gurriel then cashed a run with a grounder and Diaz brought home Richard Urena on a sharp single to left field to cut the deficit to 5-2.
The Jays also made some noise in the third.
Toronto’s rookie catcher Danny Jansen smacked a single just inside the left-field line, but was out on a tag at second. Urena then sent laser into centre field but Kiermaier made a sliding grab for the out.
Kiermaier also made a leaping grab against the scoreboard in right field on a deep drive by the Jays’ Randal Grichuk in the fourth.