Former Oklahoma State pitcher Thomas Hatch and the Blue Jays are heading home after being swept in two games by the top-seeded Rays in a best-of-three American League wild-card series.
The Rays defeated the Blue Jays 3-1 in the series opener Tuesday and 8-2 in Game 2 on Wednesday, with both games at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg. The Rays advanced to the AL Division Series to play the Yankees, who swept the Indians in Cleveland.
Hatch threw one scoreless inning in relief in each game.
After the Rays took a 3-0 lead in the seventh inning of Game 1, the Blue Jays made it a two-run game on Bo Bichette’s sacrifice fly to right for Rowdy Tellez to score in the top of the eighth. Hatch, who turned 26 years old Tuesday, then entered in the bottom of the inning and used his changeup and four-seam fastball to get Ji-Man Choi to line out to center field and Brandon Lowe (Maryland) to fly out to center. Hatch then threw an 88 mph slider to get Randy Arozarena to ground out to first to end the inning.
Game 2 was already well out of reach by the time Hatch took the mound in the seventh, with the Rays holding an 8-1 lead after the third. He struck out Hunter Renfroe (Mississippi State) swinging on an 86 mph changeup on the sixth pitch of the at-bat then two pitches later Willy Adames grounded out on a 95 mph sinker. Hatch finished the frame with an 85 mph changeup on his third pitch against Kevin Kiermaier, who grounded out to first.
Hatch was 3-1 with 2.73 ERA, 23 strikeouts and a 1.18 WHIP in 17 regular-season games during his rookie season. The Jenks, Oklahoma native made two major milestone against the Rays this season: major league debut and first win.
The Blue Jays acquired Hatch in July 2019 for David Phelps (Notre Dame) from the Cubs, who selected Hatch in the third round (No. 104 overall) in the 2016 MLB Draft. Hatch was 9-3 with a 2.14 ERA and three shutouts to earn Big 12 Pitcher of the Year honors and help the Cowboys reach the College World Series in 2016.