TORONTO — With Blake Snell the latest Ray to hit the injured list, headed for Monday arthroscopic elbow surgery that will sideline him at least into September, consider all they are now without:
Their opening-day starter, Snell. Their primary opener, Ryne Stanek. Their planned closer, Jose Alvarado. Their top home run and RBI man, Brandon Lowe. Their Gold Glove centerfielder, Kevin Kiermaier. Their powerful corner infielder, Yandy Diaz.
And that’s just the guys who got hurt the past few weeks. Others still sidelined include starter Tyler Glasnow; Tommy John surgery rehabbers Jose De Leon, Anthony Banda and Brent Honeywell; and infielders Christian Arroyo and Daniel Robertson.
So as the Rays took the field Friday before beating the Blue Jays 3-1, there was an understandable balance between being beat up and feeling beatdown.
“Oh, it’s rough,’’ manager Kevin Cash said. “There’s no doubt. We’re going to find out a lot about ourselves over the next month, four-six weeks, whenever Blake gets back. You can’t deny that.
“But we’re not in a position where we can let it affect us too much because we’re right in the thick of things. We’ve got to continue to find ways to play good baseball and sketch out some wins here.’’
They did that Friday, getting the kind of strong pitching they need from Ryan Yarbrough, two-out run-scoring hits by Austin Meadows and, who else, Travis d’Arnaud, and a favorable ruling on an umpiring call that negated a Jays run in the fourth.
But are the Rays — 59-47 after losing seven of their previous nine before Friday and 23 of 40 — going to be able to get back to winning regularly?
“We’re definitely a little banged up right now,’’ said infielder Matt Duffy, who last week retuned from a seasonlong stint on the injured list. “At the same time, you look around, there’s certainly guys in this room capable of picking up the slack. You look at the Yankees, early in the year they lost the whole friggin’ team and they did just fine.
“Every team goes through stretches … where they get banged up and you hope they’re not serious things where they’ll be back soon and you can keep the ship afloat or better in the meantime.’’
But even without Snell, who had been on his best streak of the season in pairing with Charlie Morton as team’s only two full-time traditional starters?
“We’re going to have to find ways to continue to be creative,’’ Cash said. “I think it’s fair to assume we’re going to have to use some guys that are in Triple A and lengthen out some of the guys that are here.’’
So that covers Brendan McKay, who could be back as soon as next week, and maybe Jake Faria or Austin Pruitt on the front end, and then Yarbrough, Jalen Beeks and Yonny Chirinos, who is already stretched out.
But what that doesn’t cover is the Rays making a deal in advance of Wednesday’s trade deadline to take Snell’s spot.
“I don’t foresee us going out and finding a starter,’’ Cash said. “You’re not going to find a starter that’s going to replace Blake Snell. We certainly have the depth and are equipped to handle a big workload. It’s going to take these guys really getting on a good run to do that.’’
Yarbrough got them off to a good start Friday, continuing his own impressive run, following Diego Castillo’s quick opening frame by working 5⅓ innings, allowing one run on four hits, and on only 61 pitches. The Rays then turned it over to two relievers who have had issues to finish, Chaz Roe and rookie Colin Poche, who got his first save.
“It’s very encouraging,’’ Cash said. “We’re going to need that group who’s been really, really good all season long — starters, relievers, whatever, bulk guys, openers — they’ve been great.
“But they’re going to have to be that much better now going forward with Blake on the shelf for a while. And Yarbs started it off in a really good way.’’
The Jays looked to wipe out a 1-0 Rays lead in the fourth by scoring two, but they ended up keeping only one of two runs in an odd sequence.
With two outs, the Jays got their first hit as Justin Smoak singled off Yarbrough, then another single by Randal Grichuk. Freddy Galvis laced a ball down the leftfield line that Tommy Pham tried to make a play on after it caromed off the side wall but knocked it into the stands.
Grichuk had followed Smoak home and was in the dugout, but after several rounds of discussions and a crew chief video review, the umpires decided Pham had done so unintentionally, so the runners got to advance only two bases from where they were at the pitch. (Had they felt he did so intentionally, it would’ve been two bases from where they were then.) So Grichuck went back to third and Yarbrough got out of the inning with the score tied at 1. Pham said he didn’t know the rule but felt he didn’t do anything wrong. “It just kind of worked out in our favor,’’ Yarbrough said.
Especially when the Rays scored two the next inning, d’Arnaud delivering a two-run, two-out single with the bases loaded.
Given all thy pain they’ve been dealing with, a win felt pretty good.
“That was huge,’’ Cash said.
Contact Marc Topkin at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow @TBTimes_Rays.