ST. PETERSBURG -- Blake Snell's glorious 2018 season ended after five innings on Saturday night at Tropicana Field. Once again, the American League Cy Young hopeful delivered excellence in Tampa Bay's 4-3 win over Toronto.Austin Meadows' solo home run in the seventh broke a 2-2 tie, and Mallex Smith added
ST. PETERSBURG -- Blake Snell's glorious 2018 season ended after five innings on Saturday night at Tropicana Field. Once again, the American League Cy Young hopeful delivered excellence in Tampa Bay's 4-3 win over Toronto.
Austin Meadows' solo home run in the seventh broke a 2-2 tie, and Mallex Smith added an RBI single in the inning to lead the Rays to their 89th win of the season. Should they reach 90 wins, they will become the third team since the second Wild Card was introduced, in 2012, to win 90 games and miss the playoffs.
Snell received a no-decision after allowing one run on three hits and four walks while striking out 10. Of the 82 pitches he threw, 49 were strikes.
The left-hander finished the year at 21-5 with a 1.89 ERA. Houston's Justin Verlander, who appears to be Snell's main competition for the AL Cy Young Award, pitched six scoreless innings, while also striking out 10, against the Orioles on Saturday to earn a no-decision.
"I feel like I've put a good case," said Snell, when asked about his Cy Young chances. "They're going to pick who they pick. I don't have a say, but the work that I put together, I feel it's a good case to have."
Snell and Verlander each have pros and cons as a Cy Young candidate. Snell leads the American League in wins and ERA, while Verlander leads the league in strikeouts and starts.
Chris Sale of the Red Sox, Corey Kluber of the Indians and Luis Severino of the Yankees will likely get some Cy Young votes, as well.
Snell experienced quite a turnaround in 2018, after looking lost at times during the '17 season. Rays manager Kevin Cash said that it had been a pleasure to observe Snell's progress.
"I don't think you could ever expect or anticipate any kind of progress like Blake just made," Cash said. "We get the pleasure of watching him day in and day out. Watching the work. Watching the way that he's kind of transitioned. The way he works in between his starts. His routine. And the mindset that he takes every fifth day for us. The results are great, but to watch him develop as a pitcher, as a competitor, as a teammate -- all of those things really stood out."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
With one out in the seventh and the game tied at 2, Meadows fell behind 0-1 to Toronto starter Ryan Borucki. He then connected with an 82.2-mph changeup and deposited the pitch into the right-field stands to give the Rays a one-run lead. It was Meadows' sixth home run of the season and first as a Ray.
PHAM TO 31
When Tommy Pham singled to right to lead off the Rays' sixth, he extended his on-base streak to 31 games, the longest active streak in the Major Leagues.
CRON AT 30
C.J. Cron led off the second with a home run off Borucki, giving him 30 for the season, more than double the next closest player on the team (Wilson Ramos, 14). Cron became the ninth player in franchise history with 30 home runs in a single season, joining Evan Longoria (4 times), Carlos Pena (3), Steven Souza Jr., Logan Morrison, Brad Miller, Aubrey Huff, Fred McGriff and Jose Canseco. Cron's previous career high was 16.
"Honestly, I haven't even thought about it," said Cron when asked where his 30th home run ranked in his career. "I think my rookie year, I hit a home run that clinched the division for us, so I can't say it beat that. But yes, it was cool just to get to the dugout and see all your teammates and how happy they were for you. That's what makes it great. I'm very happy with it."
HE SAID IT
"Consistency. That's the truth. The consistency of that every day, I was very happy with. I didn't feel like there was really any game where I was not feeling the same as every other start. Every start felt really good. And I was very happy with that. All the pitches were there for the most part." -- Snell, on what stood out the most from his season
MITEL REPLAY OF THE DAY
Tampa Bay challenged when Willy Adames was picked off at second base in the fourth inning. After a review of 1 minute and 1 second, the call on the field stood.
Ryne Stanek (2-3, 3.08 ERA) will open on Sunday afternoon as the Rays deploy the bullpen strategy in the season finale against the Blue Jays. First pitch is 3:10 p.m. ET at Tropicana Field. Since the beginning of June, Stanek is 1-2 with a 2.80 ERA. Right-hander Sam Gaviglio (3-9, 5.19) will start for Toronto.
Bill Chastain has covered the Rays for MLB.com since 2005.