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Rays 3, Indians 1: Brilliance from Blake Snell

Ji-Man Choi’s home run was all that was needed thanks to six hitless innings from Blake Snell

Cleveland Indians v Tampa Bay Rays Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

With 18 games remaining on the season, a win for the Rays with their ace on the mound was important for the Rays’ playoff hopes, and important for Blake Snell’s Cy Young hopes.

Both the Rays and Blake Snell did exactly what they needed to do. For the second time this season, Blake Snell pitched into the seventh inning with a no-hitter in tact. For the 80th time this season, the Tampa Bay Rays defeated their opponent.

Starting Points

Bumpday got off to a great start in the first inning, as Blake Snell struck out two of Cleveland’s three opening-inning batters.

The bottom of the first inning started out with two quick outs before Tommy Pham singled off of Indians’ starter Carlos Carraso. Ji-Man Choi then stepped up to the plate, and on the first pitch of his at bat, he launched a 91mph fastball past the center field wall, instantly giving the Rays a 2-0 lead.

Snell made quick work of the Indians in the second and third innings, striking out four batters between both innings with one walk in the third.

In the bottom of the third inning, the Rays threatened to expand on their 2-0 lead. With one out, Mallex Smith got on base with an infield single. Tommy Pham came up to bat after Joey Wendle popped out, and with Pham in the box, Mallex easily stole second.

Pham walked, and into the box came Ji-Man Choi. A wild pitch from Carrasco moved the runners into scoring position, but Choi struck out to strand them and end the inning.

The Middle Innings

Blake Snell started the top of the fourth by forcing a groundout of Yandy Diaz and followed that with a strikeout of Jose Ramirez, using a filthy curveball to record the second out.

Snell finished the inning with a walk and then the third out, and he led way for the Rays bats in the bottom half. Brandon Lowe wasted no time starting the inning out with a bang, sprinting his way to third with a leadoff triple. Kevin Kiermaier did his job in driving home Lowe with a sacrifice fly to left, increasing the Rays lead to 3-0.

Blake Snell stepped back onto the mound in the top of the 5th, and after finishing the inning with his eighth strikeout of the game, the no-hitter watch was officially on. In the bottom-half of the inning, Andrew Velazquez singled but was out at second when Mallex Smith grounded into a fielder’s choice.

Smith stole his 33rd base on the season and tied himself with Whit Merrifield for the AL lead in stolen bases, but Mallex was ultimately stranded at second.

The top of the sixth inning came and went in a flash with Snell on the mound, as he put another 0 on the board and increased my anxiousness while writing this recap. Through six innings, Snell was at 82 pitches with eight strikeouts and two walks, and no... we’ll get back to that.

Following strikeouts by Choi and Lowe, Kevin Kiermaier tripled to record his eighth on the season, and in doing so, also moved up the ladder on a franchise record.

The 7th

On a 3-2 count to leadoff hitter Jose Ramirez, Blake Snell hung a curveball, his 89th pitch of the afternoon, down the heart of the plate and the no-hitter and shutout both vanished on one powerful swing.

Snell would finish the inning without allowing another hit, and his day would be done with 104 pitches thrown. With nine strikeouts and two walks, the home run would be the only hit and run that Snell would give up. Snell’s great outing today lowered his ERA from 2.06 to 2.03 and only helped his argument as a Cy Young candidate.

The Rays offense was quieted by Carrasco in the bottom half of the seventh, and Carrasco’s day would end with seven innings of work under his belt.

Closing Things Out

Chaz Roe was summoned upon to pitch in the eighth and he dazzled with his slider, recording a strikeout and no hits to cleanly get through the inning.

The Indians brought in lefty Andrew Miller to pitch against the Rays in the home half of the inning and Ji-Man Choi was the only hitter to get to him, singling to right field but ultimately not scoring.

Jose Alvarado took the mound in the ninth inning to try and close the game out, and that, he did. After striking out leadoff hitter Francisco Lindor looking and striking out Yandy Diaz swinging, he fired a fastball to Jose Ramirez that would be hit right to Mallex Smith in right field to end the game.

The Rays improved to 80-65 on the season and now sits eight games back behind their next opponent, the Oakland Athletics, for the second AL wild card spot. They will play on Friday under the roof of Tropicana Field at 7pm.