Blake Snell is still what the kids today refer to as simply “Him.”
Facing his former team for the first time, Snell delivered a commanding performance that left the Rays bats looking lost. His command and control were on full display as he fanned 12 over six scoreless innings, including ten swing and misses, allowing just two hits and three walks. Being dominant was enough as he made sure to strikeout every batter in the Rays lineup.
Blake Snell, Wicked Sliders.— Rob Friedman (@PitchingNinja) June 18, 2023
12Ks thru 6. pic.twitter.com/aVT4c14aL1
For the Rays, starter Zach Eflin also put on a strong display, recording seven strikeouts and allowing only two runs over five innings. However, the stellar defense of the Padres and some well-time or perhaps lucky hits tipped the balance in their favor.
The game was mostly a tense pitcher’s duel with few exceptions. In the bottom of the first, the Padres had a chance to break the game open with a leadoff double from Fernando Tatis Jr. They came into the game with a .199 batting average with runners in scoring position and, at least for the moment, kept the trend going failing to advance him any farther.
In the top of the third, Yandy Diaz launched a ball to centerfield that he watched and admired until it hit the top of the wall and was not a home run. He tried to overcome the initial lack of hustle and successfully made it into seconds base, though he took the tag attempt off his face. He was left stranded on a Wander Franco flyout to end the inning.
Snell started showing some signs of weakness in the top of the fourth with back-to-back walks to Isaac Paredes and Taylor Walls with two outs. Manuel Margot chased two curveballs in the dirt on his way to striking out to close out the half-inning.
Similarly, in the top of the fifth, the Rays had hope that it would never convert to a run. The Rays had two runners on base with one out following a leadoff single by Francisco Mejia and a walk to Yandy Diaz when some hesitation from Xander Bogaerts turned what should have been double play into Wander Franco safe at first with Mejia at third. This was all for not as Harold Ramirez chased a pitch that was pretty much in the other batter's box.
It was in the bottom of the fifth when the Padres broke the deadlock with back-to-back-to-back bunts, of all things. Ha-Seong Kim and Trent Grisham initiated the rally with consecutive bunt singles. A well-executed sacrifice bunt by Fernando Tatis Jr. and a sacrifice fly by Juan Soto brought Kim home, giving the Padres a 1-0 lead.
Capitalizing on their momentum, Manny Machado extended the Padres’ lead with an RBI single, driving in Grisham. Machado then successfully stole second base, adding to the pressure on the Rays’ defense. However, the Rays managed to prevent further damage, with Bogaerts lining out sharply to Jose Siri to end the inning.
The Rays’ offense was continually stymied by the Padres’ pitching only. A Taylor Walls two-out single in the ninth inning off Josh Hader gave one final moment of hope that expired with another Margot strikeout, the Rays’ 17th of the game, to end the game.
Defensively, Manny Machado had a standout night, making several key plays that stopped the Rays in their tracks. In the third, his backhanded stop was a key moment, and his alertness in the ninth to get Isaac Paredes out at third was crucial in sealing the Padres’ victory.
As the series concludes tomorrow at 4:10 pm ET, the Rays will be looking to bounce back for the series win.