Cy Young hopeful Blake Snell entered tonight’s game searching for his 20th win on the season. To reach that milestone, the offense made sure to do their part in giving Snell enough run support to work through Texas’ lineup with ease. 15 hits by the Rays later, Blake Snell became only the second Rays pitcher to reach the prestigious 20 win mark.
Starters started well
Taking the mound for the Texas Rangers tonight was veteran righty Yovanni Gallardo. Ji-Man Choi welcomed Gallardo with a two-out base hit, but he would be stranded at first with an inning-ending strikeout.
Sporting a 2.03 ERA, Blake Snell took the mound for the Rays in his 29th Bumpday on the season. Snell induced three ground outs from the Rangers to quickly get through the bottom of the first.
The top of the second inning looked promising after CJ Cron was hit by a pitch and Kevin Kiermaier singled, but Willy Adames hit into an inning-ending double play and thwarted the potential threat for the Rays.
The home half of the second provided entertainment in the form of two strikeouts from Blake Snell and quite a catch from Brandon Lowe.
Jesus Sucre led off the top of the third inning with a single to right field, with Joey Wendle advancing Sucre to second with a single of his own. The runners would be advanced to second and third after Matt Duffy grounded out and Ji-Man Choi would fill the hole at first base with a four pitch walk. Unfortunately, the bases were swiftly unloaded after Tommy Pham grounded into a double play, stranding the eighth Rays base runner in three innings.
In the bottom of the third, Blake Snell recorded his third strikeout of the night with an elevated fastball to Jurickson Profar. With this inning-ending strikeout, Snell’s ERA on the season dropped to 1.99.
Time for some run support
The top of the fourth started with two fast outs for Gallardo before surrendering a walk to Kevin Kiermaier. Although today is not Willy Adames’ birthday, Yovanni Gallardo felt generous to the rookie and gave Adames a gift for the first pitch of the at bat. That gift would be a 91mph fastball right down the middle, and Adames accepted this gift with pleasure, hammering it 106mph towards dead center field, giving the Rays a 2-0 lead.
The hits did not stop after Adames’ 10th home run on the season, as the next batter, Jesus Sucre, doubled to left-center field. Joey Wendle hit a double of his own and plated Jesus Sucre to extend Tampa Bay’s lead to 3-0. Wendle would be stranded at second to end the inning, but Blake Snell was finally given run support.
Snell started the bottom of the fourth with a leadoff walk and shortly after, found himself with a full count on Nomar Mazara. Snell made sure not to allow a second consecutive walk.
Following the strikeout of Mazara, Adrian Beltre came up to the plate and swung at the first pitch, grounding into a double play.
Tommy Pham drew a one-out walk in the top of the fifth and advanced to second on a single from Brandon Lowe. CJ Cron, however, grounded into the third double play from the Rays on the night.
The bottom of the fifth tonight is an inning that Blake Snell will likely never forget. With a 1-2 count to Ryan Rua, Snell fired his 90th pitch of the night, a 98mph fastball, past Rua. Snell’s strikeout of Rua would be Blake’s fifth strikeout tonight, and for the first time in his career, his 200th strikeout on the season.
Snell’s night would end after 92 pitches and five innings, allowing two walks and only one hit.
A tale of two bullpens
Jeff Banister summoned former Tampa Bay starter Matt Moore from the bullpen to work the sixth, with Moore throwing 12 pitches and recording one strikeout in the frame.
Kevin Cash went to slider-extraordinaire Chaz Roe to pitch in the home half of sixth, allowing one hit, but more importantly, inducing yet another inning-ending double play, Texas’ second of the night.
Joey Wendle wasted no time in the top of the seventh, swinging at the first pitch from Matt Moore and earning himself an easy double. Matt Duffy singled and moved Wendle over to third, paving the way for Ji-Man Choi to work his magic. Magic, in this case, would be grounding into a fielder’s choice while still scoring Wendle, extending the Rays lead to 4-0.
Tommy Pham moved Choi up to second with a single to right field, and with Brandon Lowe due up, Kevin Cash called upon former Texas Ranger Carlos Gomez to pinch-hit for Lowe.
Jeff Banister would respond to this move by replacing Matt Moore with lefty Alex Claudio, who struck out Carlos Gomez and got CJ Cron to pop out, ending the inning and stranding two runners.
Lefty Jalen Beeks entered the game in the top of the seventh inning for the Rays, relieving Chaz Roe after one inning of work. Beeks threw 11 strikes on 15 pitches in the seventh, striking out Robinson Chirinos to end the inning.
The top of the eighth was going by quickly as Alex Claudio only needed five pitches to record the first two outs, but Jesus Sucre doubled Claudio’s pitch count on the inning and recorded his third hit of the night. What’s more impressive than Sucre’s three-hit night, you ask? Joey Wendle’s four-hit night. Wendle singled up the third base line to secure his first four-hit game of his 2018 campaign.
Wendle’s hit would end Alex Claudio’s night, with Eddie Butler coming in to face Matt Duffy. Duffy hit a line drive to left field, moving both runners up, loading the bases and ending Butler’s night after only three pitches. With Ji-Man Choi due up, Jeff Banister summoned C.D. Pelham, who struck out Choi to end the inning and leave the bases loaded.
Jalen Beeks allowed only one hit in the bottom of the eighth, making way for the Rays bats in the top of the ninth.
On the mound for the Rangers, C.D. Pelham was replaced by Connor Sadzeck in the top of the ninth. Tommy Pham greeted Sadzeck with a single on pitch number one. Things quickly got scary, however, as Sadzeck lost control of a 99mph fastball, drilling Carlos Gomez’ helmet. Gomez insisted he was fine and he stayed in the game, not taking too long to laugh off the incident when he made it to first base. The inning ended with three consecutive outs, and it was up to Ryne Stanek to close the game out.
Elvis Andrus was the first batter Stanek faced, and Stanek threw nothing but heat by Andrus to record the first out, a strikeout looking. After a ground out from Nomar Mazara, a fly out from the great Adrian Beltre was the third and final out for Stanek, securing the Rays’ 84th win on the season.
Blake’s Snell’s case for the Cy Young award keeps on getting better as he keeps on throwing dominant innings. He’s up to 169 innings thrown this year while sporting a 1.97 ERA. Regardless of how people feel about wins, 20 wins in a season is a tremendous milestone, especially for a young pitcher like Snell.
After a strong outing from Snell and a 15 hit performance from the offense, the Rays have taken the first two games of the series against the Rangers, winning the series and helping their late-season push of securing a spot in the postseason. The Rays will play the third and final game of the series against the Texas Rangers tomorrow afternoon at 2pm.