SEATTLE — Blake Snell knows how to throw a homecoming party.
Blake Snell grew up watching Felix Hernandez pitch. On this Sunday, he got to face the once and future King. Home cooking, family and friends cheering him on, pitching against his childhood team and against his boyhood idol? Whatever combination of all that worked, and Snell was a man on a mission.
Snell had plenty of friends and family in attendance, too many to count, cheering the homestate kid on. The Snell cheering section was louder and rowdier than even the King’s Court at times. Blake put on show for them and the rest of the Seattle faithful.
The first 6 batters to come up against Blake were put down swinging. The 7th merely struck out looking. Those 7 Ks to start the game tied an American League record, with two former White Sox: Joe Crowley in 1986 and Carlos Rondon in 2016.
Snell’s K streak ended with a tough battle against former Ray Denard Span which ended in a groundout. Blake clearly not loving the taste of non-strikeout forms of outs, sent Mike Zunino down swinging for K number 8.
Seeing is believing for Snell’s dominance. Let’s take a look at one sequence against Jean Segura. After watching this you will feel deep empathy for Jean Segura.
Unfair. Plain and simply, unfair.
Blake Snell finished with 6 IP just 2 hits given up, no walks, and 12 Ks. Absolutely filthy game for Snell, and if you want to find negatives perhaps it’s that he struck out TOO many people, which cost him innings later on.
Kevin Cash before the game told DRB:
He’s responded well to adversity. You’re gonna have adversity in every single start. Something's going to pop up. Whether it’s a play not being made, a tight call, or you hanging a breaking ball and it gets knocked out of the ballpark. I think Blake has done a really good job with accepting some of those things and then moving on. Not letting it affect him the next pitch and the next batter, and that’s a sign of a guy maturing
This Blake Snell was not rattled by Dee Gordon beating him in a footrace for Seattle’s first hit in the 4th. “Yeah, you don’t beat that guy in a footrace. I’m too slow!” Snell joked.
This loose, confident, unshakable Snell is a thing to behold.
Of course the Rays were playing Seattle, so they couldn’t hold that 1 run lead. There was an error, some mistakes from a good reliever, unreal Seattle luck, and the W was not to be for the team or for Blake. But that shouldn’t totally spoil his performance.
#Rays Blake Snell 2018 Pitch Quality— MLB Quality of Pitch (@qopbaseball) June 3, 2018
5.22 QOPA (Top 6% MLB)
CH 5.93 QOPA (Top 1% MLB)
FF 5.25 QOPA (Top 13%)
SL 4.62 QOPA (Top 16%)@snellzilla11 @FOXSportsFL@PositionToWin@DougWaechter10@davewills34@neilsolondz@Steve_Kinsella1@stevecarney@TBTimes_Rays@draysbay pic.twitter.com/HDCGq43TFt
By MLB Quality of Pitch standards, Snell’s Change was top 1% in the majors. Overall a top 6% performance and even that may be underselling him.
After the game, Snell talked about how great of a rhythm he and Sucre had behind the plate:
Everything was working. I was throwing the ball where I wanted to for the whole game. A lot of that was Sookie (Sucre). I was really happy with his game calling. I just trusted him. He knows this team better than me.
I was telling Chris, it was a bunch of times where I already had the pitch picked in my head and Sookie was already throwing it down.
When Snell was asked about the decision to lift him after the 6th, Blake seemed game for more but understood the decision:
I agree with it. 100 pitches, 6 innings. I want to go out there, obviously, but (Cash) he’s being thoughtful of my career
Snell was once thought of as an absolutely elite level pitching prospect. Currently he’s pitching at an elite level in the MLB. With each start we see that realized promise, and it’s a treat to watch him bamboozle batters.
This party is just getting started.