Are there Rays fans who wondered why Blake Snell's arrival was so hotly anticipated? Who were skeptical about him even as he was named one of the top prospects in baseball? To any Snell skeptics: I hope you watched today's game.
Snell mixed his pitches to keep the Angels batters off balance. Getting Ks off of breaking balls, change-ups, and that dynamite fastball, Snell seemed well in charge for a good part of the game.
In the very first inning, Blake Snell showed that he has the potential to make even the best hitters seem overmatched. After getting lead off hitter Yunel Escobar to strikeout swinging at a wicked 78 MPH curve, Snell decided not to even give Mike Trout anything but the fast stuff. With a runner at 2nd after a wall banging Calhoun double, Snell took his 4-seem fastball and just went right at Trout, keeping the speed rising from 91, to 93 (x2), to blowing by Trout with a strikeout swinging on a 94 MPH fastball.
There is very little to enjoy with this season of Rays baseball, so let's savor the few satisfying moments we have. Watching Snell pitch the way that he did today is a big time bright spot in a sadly dreary season.
The only real trouble Snell faced all day came in his 6th and final inning. With Yunel Escobar at 2nd and 1 out, Snell pitched carefully to Mike Trout, walking him after his full count fastball went just a bit too high and inside. Albert Pujols was able to take a 2 strike changeup on the outer corner for a single just past Forsythe, driving in Escobar.
Snell settled down immediately and induced a grounder straight up the middle. The Angels sent Pujols on the pitch, so Forsythe was heading to 2nd base to cover already. Frosty caught the ball, tagged 2nd for the out, but Pujols decided he was way too old to slide, so he just stood jogged right in front of Frosty. Forsythe responded with a weird, looping throw that went wildly too high at 1st.
You might think that this would be a clear case of interference, as Pujols had basically blocked a reasonable Forsythe throw. After a review though, it was ruled that Pujols did not technically interfere with the second baseman, and the inning continued with another run on the board for Anaheim. This decision seems super nit-picky, and coming down to "attempting a slide" vs the spirit of the rule. Had Forsythe hit Pujols with the throw, Albert is almost certainly out for interference. Frosty shouldn't be punished for trying to avoid throwing right through another human being.
Albert Pujols should've been out for standing & altering Forsythe's throw. NOT bc of new slide rule; bc of this rule pic.twitter.com/UUwe1V9rH1— David Adler (@_dadler) July 7, 2016
Snell notched his 7th K on a nasty slider to Marte to end the inning and close the book on his impressive outing. The line for Snell on the day: 6 innings, 7 Ks, giving up 4 hits, 2 BBs and two runs.
Dylan Floro got to make his major league debut today in the 8th inning. He came on with 2 on and 1 out, and a future Hall of Famer at the plate in Albert Pujols. Floro gave up a well struck single to Pujols, a deep fly ball to CJ Cron for a sac fly, and a strikeout for his debut appearance. His final line is 1.1 inning, 3 hits, two strike outs, and 1 run.
Of course this is the 2016 Rays, so there had to be some form of embarrassment. Before Floro notched his first MLB K, Pujols took off for 2nd, Conger threw down well ahead of the runner, but Trout also took off towards home. Nobody was tagged, Trout stole home, and Pujols even got to 2nd after stopping midway. Classic 2016 lolRays.
The Rays were facing Hector Santiago, who sports a not so nifty 5.35 FIP. Of course he carved through the Rays offense with little trouble.
Aside from the customary late inning solo HR from Brad Miller, the Rays offense just could not mount any kind of threat against the Halos. It's another game where at least one aspect of the team just falls completely flat, and today it was the offense's turn.
This 22-game stretch is the worst in team history. It’s the worst of any team in MLB this season. Worst by any AL team in several years.— Sam Blum (@SamBlum3) July 7, 2016