The Rays offense has been pretty sleepy for far too much of this short season. It didn’t perk up tonight, but in a well pitched game with tight defense the one run they scratched out in the eighth inning was all they needed.
Blake Snell was the starter; he went three innings, throwing 59 pitches. He didn’t give up any hits but he did walk two, and had a ton of deep counts. He also struck out five. It looked like his fastball was occasionally wild - when he missed with it he missed badly. But his curve was amazing, and he was mixing his pitches well enough to take full advantage - batters seemed to be looking for the fastball on several occasions and whiffed on the unexpected curve ball. If Zunino was calling those pitches then credit to him for making the most of Blake’s stuff.
For whatever reason, the Rays are clearly building Snell up VERY cautiously. In his first Summer camp practice outing he threw 47 pitches. In his three regular season starts he’s added just a few pitches each time.
Making his second start of the year for the Yankees, Masahiro Tanaka was very sharp. He threw five innings, giving up one hit and no walks. The Rays half of the inning seemed to fly by. If you recall, there were a couple of years that Tanaka just dominated the Rays — every game was the kind of game where you just hoped someone, anyone got a hit. Last year the matchup was a bit more favorable to the Rays, but his ability to keep the Rays off balance tonight reminded me of why I hate seeing his name on the lineup card.
The teams largely traded zeros, as both went to the bullpen early. The Rays were helped by a few good plays, such as this sliding catch by Austin Meadows. Meadows also did a great job popping up to throw the ball in, preventing the runner from advancing, which helped keep the Yankees off the board.
Sliding through the Meadows pic.twitter.com/UGWMuOLWdL— Tampa Bay Rays (@RaysBaseball) August 8, 2020
The only Rays pitcher who seemed off tonight was Diego Castillo, who walked two batters in the top of the seventh inning. Nick Anderson replaced him, also walking a batter to load the bases with two outs. But he buckled down to strike out Gary Sanchez on three “I’m just going to throw hard over the plate” fastballs to end the inning.
The Rays sixth pitcher was Chaz Roe. He started the eighth by giving up a double to Mike Tauchman (the only extra base hit for the Yankees). But the Rays got a break: Tauchman tried to take third on a LeMahieu grounder, but Adames smoothly fielded the ball and fired to third to get the lead runner.
The Rays scored the deciding run in the bottom of the eighth inning. New Yankee pitcher Ottavino walked the first two batters, who advanced to 2nd and 3rd on a wild pitch. Michael Perez, pinch hitting for Mike Zunino, first fouled a ball painfully off his knee, but then managed to loft a fly ball just deep enough into center field to bring a run home Rays up 1-0.
So the Rays just needed to get three outs, and they kept Chaz Roe in the game to face a string of righties. Fly out, strike out, fly out and the Rays were celebrating with air high fives.