Willy Adames, left, Kevin Kiermaier of the Tampa Bay Rays, partied their way after sweeping the Blue Jays and making it to the Division Series on Wednesday. (Chris O'Meara)
ST. PETERSBURG, Florida. – Hunter Renfroe fired a grand slam and the Tampa Bay Rays won a postseason series for the first time in 12 years, beating the young Toronto Blue Jays 8-2 on Wednesday night.
The Rays, the first seed in the American League, swept Toronto in two games in the wild card series.
Renfroe landed the first Tampa Bay grand slam in playoff history as part of a six-run cluster in the second inning . Tyler Glasnow made sure the Rays kept the lead thereafter, allowing two runs – a pair of home runs by Danny Jansen – over six innings.
Mike Zunino hit a two-run homer off ace Hyun Jin Ryu during Tampa Bay's big inning. The Dominican Manuel Margot and the Cuban Randy Arozarena also drove in runs and the Rays advanced to the division series, in which they will collide with the New York Yankees or the Cleveland Indians.
The next round of the playoffs begins for the Rays on Monday at Petco Park in San Diego. Renfroe knows that venue quite a bit – he hit 85 home runs in the previous three years with the Padres, who traded him to the Rays in December.
After the last out, the Rays celebrated with some hugs and handshakes.
Glasnow walked away and struck out eight to a small group of friends and family, who were allowed into Tropicana Field.
Ryu was beaten with seven runs – his highest number of the season – in one and two-thirds innings. It was the shortest outing of the season for the left-hander for the Blue Jays, who sneaked into the playoffs with the wild-card berth.
For the Blue Jays, Cuban Lourdes Gurriel Jr. 4-0. The Dominicans Vladimir Guerrero Jr. 4-1, Teoscar Hernández 4-1.
For the Rays, the Cubans Arozarena 4-3 with two runs scored and one RBI, Yandy Díaz 2-0 with one scored. The Dominicans Margot 4-1 with a run scored and an RBI, Willy Adames 4-1.