The Tampa Bay Rays offense came to life Monday night after averaging 2.75 runs per game against Houston, putting up seven runs against Chad Bettis and the Colorado Rockies. The Rays have now won four consecutive games after dropping the first game of the season.
Ryan Stanek opened ballgame and threw a scoreless frame for Tampa Bay, working around a soft single to Nolan Arenado while recording three punch-outs.
It would be safe to say that Stanek’s inning of work set the tone for the rest of the ballgame.
Ryan Yarbrough followed Stanek and allowed just one run across 4-1/3 innings of his 2019 debut. The southpaw gave up just three hits and a hit batsman while striking out three. The Rockies scratched across their lone run against Yarbrough in the sixth inning.
With one out in the frame, Yarbrough hit Charlie Blackmon with a pitch before David Dahl hit an opposite-field single left. Rays manager Kevin Cash called upon Wilmer Font to face Arenado, thus setting up a right on right matchup. The third baseman promptly doubled down the third base line, driving in a run. Font got Trevor Story to pop out in foul territory before Jalen Beeks was beckoned from the bullpen to face Ryan McMahon.
Beeks, who updated his delivery — allowing him to hide the ball well and offer more deception — collected an inning-ending strikeout, stranding a pair of runners in scoring position.
Beeks also worked around a walk in a scoreless seventh, while Jose Alvarado struck out two the eighth (18 pitches, 11 strikes, 61% strike rate), and Diego Castillo struck out the side in a 1-2-3 ninth (14 pitches, 10 strikes, 71% strike rate). The Rays bullpen has allowed just one run in the first 21 innings, while the pitching staff has allowed 10 runs total in the first five games. That is to say, the pitching staff looks incredibly deep.
On the offensive side of things, Tampa Bay got on the board in the fourth inning. Chad Bettis held the Rays hitless across the first three frames, yet that all changed when Ji-Man Choi sparked a three-run rally with a first-pitch single to left against the shift. Two pitches later, Brandon Lowe snapped an 0-14 skid by hitting a two-run blast to left.
Yandy Diaz followed by working a free pass, then went from first to third on Kevin Kiermaier’s ground rule double that bounced over the short wall in left. Daniel Robertson capped the scoring with an RBI groundout, putting the Rays up by three.
But, they weren’t done.
Tampa Bay took control of the game in the sixth inning when they knocked Bettis out of the game. Up by a pair, Lowe and Diaz each singled to center. Kiermaier stepped into the box with a chance to break the contest wide open, and he did not disappoint — drilling a three-run homer to right to put the Rays up by five.
Kiermaier, who drove in four of the seven runs, hit a bases-loaded sacrifice fly to center field an inning later, tacking on the final run.
The New What Next
The Rays and Rockies play game two on Tuesday night in a matchup of aces. Blake Snell (0-1, 7.50) will square off opposite fellow left-hander Kyle Freeland (1-0, 1.29 ERA).
Blake Snell looks to bounce back from a rough outing on Opening Day. Snell took the mound in the first inning and mowed over the first three hitters in order, all on 13 pitches (10 strikes) — coaxing a pair of pop-ups and getting Alex Bregman to chase a filthy 80 mph off-speed to cap the frame.
After Snell worked around a Gurriel single for a scoreless second inning, he was roughed up as Houston took the lead in the third. Snell walked Robinson Chirinos on a close full-count pitch before number nine hitter, Jake Marisnick, worked six-pitch free pass of his own. On the very next pitch, George Springer blasted a curveball over the center field wall for a two-run lead.
In the fourth inning, Michael Brantley paid Snell back for a second inning swinging strikeout, depositing a first-pitch fastball to right field, while Jose Altuve homered to left in the fifth.
I was happy with a lot of things I did. The only thing I was upset with was sequencing. I didn’t mix pitches like I should’ve been doing. I did it later, but to learn that, it took me giving up home runs.— Blake Snell
Last season, Snell allowed three homers only once, on May 13 against the Orioles, and two times when he allowed as many as five runs.
Snell is known for his repertoire of four pitches, yet on Thursday he leaned heavily on his fastball (35) and curveball (34) — 76% of the total number of pitches he threw.
I fell in love with the curveball and kept throwing it. It’s a good team, and that’s what they’re going to do. Frustrating, but a lot to learn. A lot to learn, and I’m happy about that.— Blake Snell
To his credit, the reigning AL Cy Young Award winner was able to finish six innings on 91 pitches (55 strikes, 60% strike rate), although he allowed six hits and two walks while striking out just three. Snell did not strike a batter out over the final four innings.
Kyle Freeland limited the Marlins to two hits and just one run in seven innings on Opening Day. He struck out five and generated 12 ground-ball outs. His incredible .056 BABIP is well below his career norm, i.e. it’s a matter of time before the luck dragons swing back in favor of the opposition. He relies primarily on his 93 mph worm-burner four-seam fastball and a whiffy 89 mph cutter with strong cutting action, while also mixing in a 93 mph sinker with natural sinking action and a hard 87 mph changeup with natural sink and cut. Key Matchups: Guillermo Heredia (2-4, HR, RBI, BB), Tommy Pham (2-3, HR, 2 RBI)
You can read about the series in our preview (linked below)..
Rays 4/2/19 Starting Lineup
- Diaz 1B
- Pham LF
- Robertson 2B
- Garcia DH
- Zunino C
- Herdia RF
- Adames SS
- Kiermaier CF
- Arroyo 3B
- Snell LHP