The Rays offense showed some signs of life tonight. Marco Estrada, who the Rays have absolutely crushed the last few times they have faced him, was exactly what the doctor ordered.
Perhaps most encouragingly, it was Wilson Ramos’ bat coming alive that holds the most promise for this team’s offense to wake up and compete.
The Rays offense got on the board in the 3rd, with a Lucas Duda 2-run smash! The Rays offense has struggled mightily since the All Star break, especially so since the Trade Deadline. However, that blame cannot be placed at the Dude’s feet/bat.
Where it could absolutely be placed is at Wilson Ramos’s. Ramos has been dreadful recovering from his brutal ACL injury. However, last night he got the Rays one the board with a solo shot. Tonight, he made that back to back games with a HR, pulling a laser shot just barely high enough to get over the LF wall.
Ramos wasn’t done on the night, going 3-4 with a BB. Huge night for Ramos, and hopefully a sign that there is life in that bat.
The Rays were able to extend their lead and put 6 runs on the board, thanks to Marco Estrada’s command falling completely apart. After a trio of singles (and a positive replay), Estrada walked Adeiny Hechavarria on 4 pitches to walk in a run. Estrada followed that up with another RBI walk to Daniel Robertson (who also went 2-4 with a 2B).
Overall, 6 runs, 13 hits, and multiple scoring opportunities throughout the game for Rays hitters. There were more deep fly balls that came within inches of leaving the park. It wasn’t so long ago that this was one of MLB’s top 5 offenses. Hopefully this is the start of showing that again.
Snell’s Quest for a W
Blake Snell took the mound for the Rays, looking to follow up his quality 6 1⁄3 innings of work against Cleveland. Snell followed that up nicely.
In the box score, it might not look that impressive. 6 IP, 4 ER, 7 H, 1 BB, and 4 K.
However, that line does not tell the story of Snell’s night. The first run Blake surrendered on the night counted as an “earned” run off of a double. In reality, it was a weak bloop pop-up that dropped short, took a strange turf bounce, and was misplayed by Souza and Mallex Smith, allowing former Ray and Lakeland great Steve Pearce to score from 1st.
Outside of one rough inning, Snell worked well getting weak contact, mixing his pitches, and especially keeping hitters off balance with his change-up.
On the subject of that one rough inning. Snell took the mound in the bottom of the 5th, with a nice, comfortable 6-1 lead. A single up the middle and a towering bloop from Jose Bautista placed just far enough away from a charging Souza to land, and Snell was in a sticky spot facing the red hot Josh Donaldson.
Well, Donaldson stayed red hot, taking Snell deep to RF for a 3-run bomb. Snell would recover quickly, limiting the damage there. In fact, Snell came back to record a fairly easy 6th inning, working around a weird, phantom catcher's interference call on Ramos.
It wasn’t perfect, but this was another encouraging start for Snell, and definitely something to build on.
The bullpen worked quickly and efficiently again. Tonight, Steve Cishek, Tommy Hunter, and Alex Colome went a combined 3 IP, 1 H, 0 BB, 0 R, and 2 K (both from Colome). This reformed pen is becoming a weapon and a strength of the Rays.
The Rays got a much needed win, the offense looked like it had a pulse, and Blake Snell finally has his first recorded win of 2017.
Build. On. This.