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Rays 4 Royals 1: Snells pretty good in here

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Rays try radical new approach, using one pitcher for first six innings — and it works!

Kansas City Royals v Tampa Bay Rays Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

I am glad the Rays various bullpen day strategies, which includes openers and headliners and the like, has enjoyed at least some success.

But that doesn’t mean I’ve lost my taste for an elite starter.

Blake Snell has looked good coming back from a brief disabled list stint, and tonight he was pitching with less stringent limits. And he was really good.

The Rays offense, while it was good for four runs, was mostly frustrating. I’m glad I was not listening to the radio broadcast because I’m sure Dave Wills would have had at least half a dozen “leaving chicken on the bone” references. The Rays offense doesn’t have a ton of power, which makes run manufacturing an effort – it takes a lot of things to go right for singles to add up to crooked numbers. Also, both Jake Bauers and Brandon Lowe are completely unable to contribute on offense at the moment, so extended rallies are going to bump into one of them.

Tonight they were facing several pretty unremarkable pitchers. The starter was Glenn Sparkman, a 26 year nonroster invitee previously with the Blue Jays who had primarily been used in relief in his stint with the Royals. Later in the game they faced Burch Smith. Smith came to the Rays as part of the Wil Myers trade that also brought us some guy named Jake Bauers. He soon after needed Tommy John surgery and then disappeared, not appearing in a game for a full two seasons. The Rays did not protect him following the 2017 season, and he was picked up by the Mets, who traded him to the Royals. He has hung on with them, although his numbers are not particularly impressive, it’s nice to see him playing baseball.

Their runs scored in the second (a solo home run by Willy Adames that hit the C ring); a fourth inning triple by Joey Wendle, and a sixth inning double by Tommy Pham.

Mallex Smith, C. J. Cron, Willy Adames and Tommy Pham all had multi-hit games. But the team went just 2 for 12 with runners in scoring position, and they struck out ten times against pitchers not known for their strike out stuff.

GIF courtesy Dominick Vega

Snell’s only costly mistake was a solo home run to Ryan O’Hearn; it was a poor pitch to a poor hitter when he was up 0-2. The run was not important to the game’s outcome, but it did end the Rays scoreless inning streak, which had started during the Boston series at 27 innings. They thus tied, but failed to surpass, a franchise record.

The Rays looked like they might have been able to add to their score in the bottom of the eighth. Tommy Pham singled. Then, trying to get back to base in a pick off attempt, he jammed his fingers against the ground and he was immediately taken out of the game. Such a shame to think he could lose time to injury again! Postgame reports were that the xrays were negative so hopefully he will recover quickly.

Carlos Gomez came in to pinch run which became significant when Cron hit one deep to right, which bounced off the wall. Gomez was running hard all the way with two outs, but he was thrown out at the plate on a really good relay throw. The Rays challenged, and certainly had a case that Gomez’s hand slid across the base before the tag, but apparently the review umps were not convinced.

There was the requisite drama, of course, closing out the game. Lucas Duda walked, and Alcides Escober hit a hard fly ball between center and right. Carlos Gomez seemed to just get there but the couldn’t quite snag the ball, which fell for a double that put men at second and third with one out. Sergio Romo, the “little engine who could,” struck out Ryan O’Hearn And Adalberto Mondesi to clinch the win.