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Rays 3, Astros 1 — Glasnow clean in 2019 debut, Rays offense keeps clicking

Also, we’re allowed to call Jose Alvarado the closer now, right?

Houston Astros v Tampa Bay Rays Photo by Julio Aguilar/Getty Images

The second Rays pitcher to debut a new delivery this week, even though Glasnow wasn’t incorporating the Alex-Cobb-style “pause” we saw in Spring Training, his stride was notably quicker thanks to an added swing element to his step.

Glasnow’s new delivery was designed to help limit base runners from stealing, and the quicker stride may have proven effective early, with Michael Perez catching Jose Altuve trying to steal in the first inning. Catching baserunners has been a fun element of this Opening Series; clearly both of the Rays catchers have a cannon.

Feeding 98 mph, Glasnow’s long-armed fastball (which has the closest release point to home plate in the majors) was doing what it needed to tonight, leading him to four strikeouts:

Glasnow’s day would end after five innings, with the Rays following their trend of limiting starting pitcher innings in their first outing of the year.

Glasnow allowed seven base runners but only one run, a homer by birthday-boy Alex Bregman, tucked just over the wall in Crawford’s Corner in the first inning.

Final line: 5.0 IP, 1 ER, 4 K, 1 BB, — 1.80 ERA

Collin McWho?

The Rays stacked the lineup with left handers against Collin McHugh, going so far as to swap out Willy Adames for second baseman Joey Wendle, and then starting Brandon Lowe and Avisail Garcia to add some juice. The concern was justified, McHugh struck out the first two Rays he saw and was perfect the first time through the order.

Yandy Diaz led the fifth inning smoking a baseball just inside the third base line, hit too hard for Yuli Gurriel to get a glove on, despite a diving attempt. Inches from being foul, this was a hint of what was to come.

With two outs, McHugh finally looked mortal.

Hanging a breaking ball for the first time on the evening, Kevin Kiermaier knocked it off the right field wall, scoring Diaz easily. McHugh didn’t lay off the breaking stuff (and why not, it had worked all night!), and lefty Michael Perez, hitting ninth, read a curve perfectly and sent it through the right side to score KK without a throw home.

It’s a mystery as to why McHugh pivoted away from the fastball that gave the Rays fits the first time through the line up, but I’ll take it.

Rays Offense Comes Through

Later, Perez continued to show why the Rays value his approach in the bottom of the eighth, lacing a double up the right field line off a change up he laid back on.

Pinch defender Guillermo Heredia, who took over in left when Chaz Roe entered the game, bunted the runner to third, bunted Perez over perfectly, and Tommy Pham hit a hard single through the left side to bring him home — and extend his third best in franchise history on base streak!

Jose Alvarado took the mound in the ninth — is there any question who the Rays closer is? — and blew his heater beyond the Astros 7-8-9 hitters to seal the win, again touching 100 mph, including on the strikeout pitch that sat down the final hitter. That’s two saves in two nights against one of the best teams in baseball!

Rays win, improving their record to 2-1 on the season.

This four game series against Houston will conclude tomorrow at 1:10 PM, where Yonny Chirinos will start without an Opener.

Game Notes

  • There was a lot of shifting in this game, so it was an odd thing to see in the second inning, when two Astros hit oppo-singles against the shift;.neither would score. Ji-Man also singled against the shift in the sixth opposite field.
  • Ji-Man Choi, doing his best to score the runner from third in the fourth inning, did everything he could to try and hit a pitch from Colin McHugh, and LAUNCHED... his bat to second base. It was a strikeout, the second as McHugh struck out the 2-3-4 hitters after walking Meadows (who stole and advanced on an errant throw).
  • Ryne Stanek, expected to be the Opener tomorrow, surprisingly took over in the sixth inning, retiring six of seven hitters easily on 21 pitches. His only base runner was a walk.
  • Here were KK’s comments after the game:
  • Oh, and we almost lost Tricia today...