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Rays 8, Blue Jays 1: You’re Gonna Go Far(ia), Kid

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I really like Faria and I want him to pitch forever.

MLB: Tampa Bay Rays at Toronto Blue Jays John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports

Faria responded well to the top of the Blue Jays lineup in the first inning, retiring the side despite allowing a hard hit liner by Josh Donaldson, who he had been pitching up with fastballs until it almost burned him. Corey Dickerson hit a one-out single and was pushed over to second on a FC, but made an interesting decision to challenge the veteran arm of Russell Martin and steal third. This did not work out well, and Dickerson was thrown out by a mile for the final out of the inning.

The Blue Jays and the Rays traded remarkably similar innings in the second. With no balls hit particularly hard, both teams put runners in scoring position with one out, and then ended the opportunity with a double play ball by a catcher. The Rays even managed to load the bases before being retired. Credit to both pitchers (especially Jacob Faria making his second career start...this is a Rays blog after all) for staying cool and picking up big ground ball outs.

The Rays did break through in the third, as Featherston and LoMo made up for their wonky error by both homering, totaling four runs. Featherston’s shot to dead center barely scraped the top of the wall, whereas Morrison’s monster shot went 429 feet, and was a no-doubter from the start.

The Rays smacked around Estrada in the third, collecting six hits, five-in-a-row. After Featherbottomston’s leadoff homer, Corey Dickerson smacked a one-out single, as did Longo. Both hits set the stage for LoMo’s three run jack. With runners on second and third, Daniel Robertson hit a ball to the shortstop, and the runner on third base (Souza) was running on contact. Caught in a pickle, Souza was retired, as was Derek Norris right after him, yet the four run lead certainly took the pressure off for Faria, who pitched very well.

The Rays’ fourth inning would knock Marco Estrada out of the game. Mallex Smith and Corey Dickerson (his third hit of the game) hit back-to-back singles. John Gibbons decided he had seen enough, and gave Estrada the hook. Despite allowing no runs in the first inning, Estrada gave up two more home runs for a year total of 13, and 12 (!) hits, many of which were well struck by the Rays.

Domonic Leone provide little initial relief, as Longo sent his first pitch down the left field line, scoring two to put the Rays up 6-0. Despite his inauspicious start, however, Leone rocked the Rays in the fifth, striking out the side in dominant fashion.

Faria, though, remained up to the challenge. His stuff (especially his changeup) was particularly electric, and he was fooling Jays hitters left and right. What’s more, he was remarkably efficient. Through five innings, Faria allowed only three hits on 70 pitches.

The sixth saw Faria stumble a bit. After striking out Kevin Pillar on three pitches and reaching 0-2 on Josh Donaldson, Faria allowed a hit to Donaldson and walked Jose Bautista, who had already struck out twice already. His control was beginning to leave him a bit. This put a runner in scoring position for the Blue Jays for the first time since the second inning. From here, Faria faced some of the more fearsome power hitters on the roster Kendrys Morales, who terrorized the Rays at Tropicana Field with two decisive home runs, struck out for a huge out. Faria also managed to retire the surging Justin Smoak, though not before allowing a fly ball that made my heart jump a bit.

The seventh would see the end to Faria’s shutout and his night, but he would leave the game having pitched 6.1 innings, allowing five hits total and a single run. Austin Pruitt relieved Faria, and allowed no more inherited runs to score, keeping the score at 7-1. After a nail biter of an eighth where Pruitt loaded the bases with two outs, Pruitt retired Russell Martin to keep the lead intact.

Corey Dickerson closed out the game with a satisfying 420 foot home run, his first in what seems like a while. Pruitt closed out the game on his own as well, and the Rays took the first game of the shortened two-game series, giving Faria his second win in his second start.