Snell allowed just one hit in 5 2/3 scoreless innings in the 3-1 win Tuesday at Tropicana Field. The 2018 American League Cy Young award winner also had nine strikeouts in the victory.
"I'm getting into a groove," Snell told reporters. "It usually takes me awhile to get going. I'm starting to feel it. The playoff energy always gets me a lot more excited."
Left fielder Randy Arozarena scored the Rays' first run on a wild pitch in the bottom of the fourth inning. Rays right fielder Manuel Margot hit a two-run homer off Blue Jays relief pitcher A.J. Cole in the bottom of the seventh inning.
Blue Jays shortstop Bo Bichette drove in the final run of the game with a sacrifice fly RBI in the top of the eighth frame.
Rays relief pitchers Diego Castillo, Nick Anderson and Pete Fairbanks combined to allow four hits and one run over the final 3 1/3 innings. Fairbanks earned his first save of the postseason after he allowed one hit and struck out two batters in the ninth inning.
Margot went 2 for 3 with two RBIs and a run scored for the Rays. Blue Jays left fielder Lourdes Gurriel Jr. went 2 for 4 in the loss. Blue Jays starter Matt Shoemaker allowed two hits in three scoreless innings.
"We did a lot of things right [Tuesday]," Rays manager Kevin Cash said. "We played really nice defense. [Margot] came up with a big home run and our pitching was tremendous. We are thrilled to come out of Game 1 with a win."
The Rays host the Blue Jays in Game 2 at 4:07 p.m. EDT Wednesday in St. Petersburg. Rays right-handed pitcher Tyler Glasnow is expected to start Game 2. Left-handed pitcher Hyun Jin Ryu is expected to start for the Blue Jays.