The Rays are one of just six teams in MLB that have yet to win 10 games at home. However, not everyone struggles inside of Tropicana Field
Stuck in the gauntlet that is the American League East, it’s understandable for the Tampa Bay Rays (23-25) to fly under the radar at times. Although less-so, given their latest pitching theatrics. While the Boston Red Sox (34-16) pace the division, they were unable to muster any offense on Thursday night, falling 6-3 to the Rays at Tropicana Field.
On the arm of Blake Snell, who threw six shutout-innings against a Red Sox lineup that leads the league in batting average, Tampa Bay picked up just their ninth win at home this season. Conversely, the team has 14 wins away from the Trop.
“He certainly looked the part tonight,” Manager Kevin Cash said after Snell’s last appearance versus Boston on April 27. “Looked the part of that No. 1, elite, whatever you want to call it.”
Continued success against Red Sox
The Rays skipper was equally impressed with the efforts of his young left-hander on Thursday.
“He looks really good,” Cash said. “He looked really good against them last time up in Fenway. Kinda set the tone the first at-bat with [Mookie Betts], he was gonna come right after guys.”
Despite the fact that the team struggles at home, losers of five straight prior to Thursday’s triumph, Snell has identified himself as one of the leagues most difficult pitchers to face — when at home. During the five-game home losing streak the Rays managed to score only six runs.
They entered the fifth inning on Thursday with a 6-0 lead.
As for the 25-year-old southpaw, Snell has allowed only three runs over 31.1 innings in five home-starts this year. He’s allowed five-or-fewer hits in each of those games, including only three against Boston on Thursday. And, dating back to September 12, 2017, he’s allowed one run or less in seven consecutive starts under the roof at Tropicana Field.
“It’s home, you’re comfortable,” he said after the game. You get to sleep in your own bed, it’s just your home park, it’s always nice to throw there. I don’t know what it is but I’m just comfortable pitching here.”
Leading all pitchers in the American League with his 0.86 home-ERA, Snell is second to Phillies pitcher Jake Arrieta (0.84) for the top-spot in all of baseball.
Much of his success can be attributed to a decrease in walks (2.9 BB/9 in 2018 vs 4.1 BB/9 in 2017). And the fact that he is yet to throw a pitch with the bases loaded. In those situations last year, during 10 plate appearances, Snell allowed 10 runs on two hits and three walks, including a grand slam on April 7, to Blue Jays slugger Kendrys Morales.
Tampa Bay’s one-through-four hitters combined to go 8-for-15 with three RBI and five runs scored. Outfielder Johnny Field was the only player that did not record a hit.
Mallex Smith stole his 11th base of the season, he’s now in a sixth-place tie in the American League. His fifth-inning single snapped an 0-for-10 streak.
Yonny Chirinos (forearm strain) made a rehab appearance on Thursday for the High-A Charlotte Stone Crabs. In two scoreless-innings of work, he threw 33 pitches, allowed two hits, striking out two and walking two.
On Wednesday night, Nathan Eovaldi made his fourth rehab start (first at Triple-A Durham), picking up the loss after going four innings and allowing eight earned runs on 10 hits, striking out six.
The Rays host Baltimore for a weekend series starting tomorrow. Cash has already announce that Sergio Romo will be the starter, or at least the first pitcher of the game, on Friday and Sunday, with Ryne Stanek getting the call on Saturday.
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