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Rays 4, Rockies 0: Trouble With The Curve?

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And the fastball, and the slider, and the changeup.

Colorado Rockies v Tampa Bay Rays Photo by Julio Aguilar/Getty Images

After a convincing 7-1 victory in last night’s contest, the Rays looked to seal the series win, Kevin Kiermaier looked to stay hot, and reigning American League Cy Young Blake Snell looked to bounce back against the Colorado Rockies.

But it wouldn’t be a small task, as the Rockies would give the ball to Cy Young contender in his own right Kyle Freeland. The Rays stacked the lineup with all the righties, including newcomer Christian Arroyo:

... and would go onto beat the Rockies by a score of 4-0 — and Blake Snell, let’s just say that he would, indeed, bounce back. He wouldn’t allow a baserunner for the first four innings, and faced the minimum through five and a third.

Mixing it up

Snell would make quick work in the first, showing the variation he thought he was missing during his start against the Astros.

Snell would continue this trend, mixing all of his pitches, including in increased usage of the changeup, as well as going to all of his pitches for strikeouts.

Including the fastball:

Snell felt that he was a bit predictable against the Astros, citing his ‘falling in love’ with his curveball. Tonight, he was everything but, showing confidence in throwing any pitch in any count. Here’s how his pitch usage compared to his previous start:

Blake Snell pitch usage

Pitch vs. Astros vs. Rockies
Pitch vs. Astros vs. Rockies
Four Seamer 37 36
Curve 34 27
Changeup 14 22
Slider 6 17
SwStr 11 25

While he didn’t fall in love with his curveball, he certainly didn’t forget about it either:

Snell’s final line: 7IP, 2 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 13 K’s.

It was a night of redemption for Blake.

The Rays offense started trouble early

Freeland wouldn’t enjoy the same early success as Snell however, after a walk to Yandy Diaz, a base hit against the shift to Daniel Robertson, and a second walk to Avisail Garcia would load the bases with only one out.

Mike Zunino would ground to Nolan Arenado, who would make the surprising decision to come home rather than go with his momentum and start a possible 5-4-3 double play. Initially called out, the result will be overturned after a Rays challenge, and that would open the scoring.

Heredia would follow with a two run single, and that would be the extent of the damage.

Freeland would settle down after that, though, as those would be the only runs he would surrender 4.2 innings of work. The Rockies bullpen would pick up where Freeland left off for the most part, but would allow one more run on an RBI single by Arroyo that scored Kiermaier from second in the bottom of the 6th. That would be all of the scoring.

Wilmer Font took over for Snell, and finally resembled the pitcher the the Rays rightfully took a chance on last year.

Other notes

  • Adames continues to look uncomfortable at the plate, and carries a putrid .112 OPS through the first 6 games.
  • On the contrary, Heredia impresses at the plate again, as the defensive minded outfielder delivered yet another big hit.
  • The Rays snapped a streak of 9 consecutive winning decisions for Freeland dating back to last year.
  • Brandon Lowe pinch hit for Daniel Robertson in the bottom of the second. He was removed from the game sue to illness. While it doesn’t appear serious, he is day-to-day.
  • Also in the bottom of the second, Tommy Pham extended his on base streak to 39 games, drawing a walk. He is now one shy of tying Johnny Damon for the franchise record. I think the Rays graphics department may have anticipated this happening:
  • Though Snell was able to dial back his Curveball usage, how he used it was more effective. His ability to go to all of his pitches to finish off betters enabled this interesting stat:
  • After scorching a 106.7 MPH double to the left center field gap in the 8th, Diaz limped off of the field and was replaced with Ji-Man Choi. In a post game interview, manager Kevin Cash said he ‘tweaked an ankle.’
  • The Rays look to complete the sweep in tomorrow’s matinee, where Charlie Morton sets to duel former Rays prospect German Marquez on the heels of a recent contract extension.
  • Also: