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Rays 2 Red Sox 6 : Price dominates Rays hitters

San Francisco Giants v Tampa Bay Rays
At least we weren’t shut out
Photo by Brian Blanco/Getty Images

I’ll cut to the chase: Price was extremely effective tonight. He pitched eight innings, striking out eight, yielding just four base runners (two walks, two singles), one of which was erased on a caught stealing. The Rays had pretty much no offense against him.

Early Going

A Price vs Snell pitching match-up offers the chance to see two elite lefties at work. David Price, of course, is the well-paid all star whose 4+ ERA probably disguises how effective he’s been most of the year. Blake Snell is the newcomer who has impressed with his knee-bending curve.

Sometimes these much-anticipated pitching duels merely disappoint, but today’s early innings delivered.

Despite giving up a couple of walks and hits, Snell was very effective in the first three innings, keeping his composure even as he battled an awfully tight strike zone and a first base umpire who ruled that the Red Sox had checked just about every swing. He was helped out of a third inning jam when Luke Maile was able to throw out Xander Bogaerts trying to advance to second on an errant pitch.

Price, for his part, was perfect, getting through the first 3 innings with 34 pitches, working ahead of hitters. The hardest hit Rays ball was a foul drive off of Beckham’s bat before he succumbed to a strike out.

The Middle

Snell’s control issues came back to bite him in the fourth. He got ahead of Hanley Ramirez before walking him; ahead of Sandy Leon before giving up a single; and then yielded a hard-hit run-scoring double to Chris Young. He then seemed to lose control of the game as he walked Aaron Hill to load the bases. A sac fly made it 2-0, and then a walk to Pedroia reloaded the bases, at which point Cash decided to end Snell’s outing at 94 pitches. Control has been an ongoing issue for Snell; the home plate umpire certainly didn’t help him tonight, failing to give him some calls at the edge which made it easy for the Red Sox hitters to simply wait for pitches down the middle.

In the bottom of the fourth, Logan Forsythe opened the inning with a 3-2 single. He was erased when caught stealing, but at least we avoided the dreaded “no hitter” watch. With just 41 pitches thrown after four, it looked as though Price was well on his way to a dominant complete game.

The End

With Snell out, the Rays brought in first Erasmo Ramirez and then Kevin Jepsen to finish the fourth and then get through the 5-7th innings. Both pitched well. However, the Red Sox tacked on another run in the 7th thanks to two bloop hits and two sac flies.

Romero pitched a relatively clean 8th, seeming to have used his DL and rehab stints to regain his form. Farquhar had a less impressive 9th, first putting Pedroia on base with a poor throw on a ground ball, and then yielding a 2 run homer to Xander Bogaerts, followed by a couple of base hits and a ground ball RBI. Yadda yadda it was 6-0 by the time the inning was over.

The Rays did make a bid to get on the board in the eighth inning. Tim Beckham reached on a single, and then Steven Souza Jr. hit a line drive that was headed to the 162 Landing. Unfortunately for the Rays, newbie Sox outfielder Andrew Benintendi was able to reach over the short wall and snag the ball, tumbling into the stands as he fell.

And they even made a stab at a come back, with a KK single and Longoria 2-run HR in the 9th.

As Joe Maddon liked to say (mostly back in 2006-7), sometimes you’re the windshield, and sometimes you’re the bug.

Still Bullish on Snell

I’m sure it was discouraging for Blake Snell to fail to get through four innings. However, there’s no reason to think the future is anything but bright for him. The broadcast showed a graphic comparing Snell’s first twelve starts to Price’s in 2009, and Snell has done better on every metric other than walks.

In an in-game interview, Hickey also compared Snell to Price, noting that both came to the majors with limited fastball command; Price has clearly improved in that area. But Snell came up with four major league pitches, whereas Price needed to learn to move beyond the fastball. Finally, the recent This Week in Ray Baseball featured an interview with Brian Anderson, who has been impressed with Snell, seeing him as a young pitcher with a pretty sophisticated understanding of the game. Anderson sees him as someone who can get a good read on hitters which he can use toward developing good pitch sequences. While obviously the Rays would rather be in the pennant chase right now, it’s not too bad having a pitcher like Snell get some major league experience in what are essentially low leverage games.

Losing to the Red Sox stings even if the games aren’t meaningful to the Rays. We’ll get ‘em tomorrow.