Quiet, soft-spoken, and perhaps even mild-mannered. These are all adjectives that could describe Tampa Bay Rays starting pitcher Blake Snell. He doesn’t say much. He doesn’t show much emotion. All he does is take a baseball and stand 60′-6” away from you — that is where the 25-year-old does all of his talking.
For the first time this season, the Kansas City Royals saw exactly what it’s like to face the hard-throwing left-hander. In front of an announced crowd of 9,042, Snell, who fired six innings of four-hit ball while striking out 11 batters, helped lead the Rays to a 4-1 victory.
Runs are hard to come by
Whit Merrifield led-off the game for Kansas City with a long double off the left-field wall. After moving over to third base on a sac-fly by left fielder Alex Gordon, the Royals second baseman was left to watch as Snell struck out catcher Salvador Perez and third baseman Hunter Dozier to end the inning.
Snell retired the next eight batters he faced — until Merrifield stepped to the plate again. Once again the Royals infielder got the better of the Rays ace, drawing a two-out walk in the third inning. Again, Snell got out of the inning unscathed.
Rookie first baseman Ryan O’Hearn put the Royals on the board with his fifth home run of the season — a solo shot over the left-field fence. That’s about all the Royals could muster-up on Tuesday. But to be fair, that’s about all any team has been able to do against Snell over the last three months.
Especially at Tropicana Field.
You could make an argument that Snell is the best pitcher in the American League, and manager Kevin Cash was asked as much after the game.
“He’s doing a tremendous job,” Kevin Cash said after the game. “I don’t know everybody’s numbers but we’re glad we have him. He’s the best as I’m concerned.”
Prior to Tuesday’s contest, over his last 13 starts, dating back to May 24, Snell has allowed one run or less in 11 of them. Take a look at the numbers he’s posting during that span.
- Innings Pitched: 74.1
- ERA: 1.33
- Strikeouts: 88
- Opp. BA: .167
Plus, he’s now gone 13 consecutive home starts while allowing one run or fewer. Dating back to 1913, when earned runs were officially kept, he’s the only pitcher in Major League Baseball to ever reach that mark.
“I feel very comfortable here, very confident here,” Snell said after the game. “I’m not really looking at other people to say if they’re good, bad, I really don’t care. I know that I need to clean up some things and get ready for Boston on Sunday.”
Entering the fifth inning, dating back to Saturday’s contest against the Red Sox, the Rays had gone 27 consecutive innings without allowing a run. That tied the franchise mark set from September 13-15, 2013. O’Hearn’s two-out blast prevented the club from setting the record.
Coincidentally, it also snapped a streak of 20 consecutive scoreless innings for the Royals offense.
Right fielder Mallex Smith went 2-for-4 with two runs scored. He was on base for Wendle’s triple as well as Tommy Pham‘s ground-rule double in the sixth inning. Pham tallied three hits on the night. Smith currently has 26 stolen bases on the season and trails only Merrifield and Dee Gordon (27), as well as Jose Ramirez (28) for most in the American League.
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