Rick Zamperin: Blue Jays beat themselves in series opener vs. Rays

The Toronto Blue Jays beat themselves in the opening game of their best-of-three MLB wild card series against Tampa Bay on Tuesday.

Toronto dropped a 3-1 decision against the top seeded Rays at Tropicana Field, and the fact is, the Jays could have won.

The controversial decision to start pitcher Matt Shoemaker instead of ace Hyun-Jin Ryu in the opening game will not haunt manager Charlie Montoyo as much as the decision to yank Shoemaker after three innings.

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Shoemaker was hummin’ along, throwing 35 pitches — 27 for strikes — and allowed just two hits in his three innings of work before Montoyo stuck to his game plan as opposed to riding the hot hand.

The game plan was to have Shoemaker throw three innings and then give the ball to Robbie Ray for three more innings, and the plan nearly worked to perfection.

Read more: Rick Zamperin: Blue Jays will go the distance vs. Rays, Dodgers will go all the way

But Ray gave up a triple to the first batter he faced and Randy Arozarena later scored the first run of the game when Ray threw a wild pitch a couple of batters later and the Rays added a two-run homer in the seventh inning and walked away with the ‘W’.

Montoyo said they had to “be creative” to beat the Rays but it was their ‘creativity’ that may have cost them Game 1.

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Who knows, Shoemaker could have thrown another one or two shutout innings to match what the Rays got out of their ace, Blake Snell, or maybe the Jays would have won the game outright if Ryu got the start.

If the Blue Jays rattle off victories on Wednesday and Thursday then all will be forgotten, but if not, Toronto should throw away their creative game plan for one that gives them a better chance at winning.

Rick Zamperin is the assistant program, news and senior sports director at Global News Radio 900 CHML.

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