After a disappointing start to the 2019 season, Blake Snell bounced back with a dominant outing on Tuesday, throwing seven innings of two-hit shutout ball. The Rays are now a franchise-record 5-1 with five straight victories, including Tuesday night’s 4-0 win over the Rockies. They have allowed just five total runs in those five wins, and 10 runs overall.
Snell retired his first 12 batters (eight on strikeouts) before Trevor Story led off the fifth inning with a base hit. He, however, was promptly picked off by Snell. Chris Iannetta (sixth inning walk) and Story (infield hit in the seventh) went down as the only other batters to reach against against the southpaw, who played off of the Rockies aggressiveness.
Utilizing a similar plan to the last time he faced Colorado, Snell tied a career-high 13 strikeouts across seven innings — seven coming on his curveball. The left-hander induced 25 swings and misses (37% of the 67 strikes thrown), more than he had in any start last season.
Snell’s pitching breakout:
- Fastball: 36 thrown, 29 strikes, 7 whiffs
- Curveball: 29 thrown, 16 strikes, 7 whiffs
- Changeup: 23 thrown, 13 strikes, 7 whiffs
- Slider: 16 thrown, 9 strikes, 4 whiffs
Wilmer Font finished up for Tampa Bay, throwing the final two frames and allowing just one batter to reach on a walk. He struck out one and threw 17 of 25 pitches for strikes (68% strike rate).
Meanwhile, the Rays took advantage of a Rockies gaffe a three-run rally in the first-inning runs against Kyle Freeland. Yandy Diaz got things started with a walk before Daniel Robertson moved him up 90 feet on a base hit. Avisail Garcia loaded the bases on the second free pass of the inning.
With one out, Mike Zunino hit a ground ball to third base for what looked like a twin killing. Although instead of going for a sure 5-4-3 double play, Nolan Arenado came home to try to force out Diaz at the plate. Diaz was initially called out, yet the play was overturned upon review as catcher Chris Iannetta never touched home plate as he attempted to turn a 5-2-3 double play. Guillermo Heredia capped the rally with a two-run single to left.
Freeland, the Rockies ace, was able to settle down once the damage was done, but he was lifted after just 4-2/3 innings and 99 total pitches. Freeland was able to set a career high with 10 strikeouts, including a punch out of Willy Adames, who went 0-4 on the night.
The Rays tacked on a two-out insurance run in the sixth inning. Kevin Kiermaier lashed a two-bagger to right off Carlos Estevez before Christian Arroyo hit an RBI single to center to make it 4-0 and close out the scoring.
The New What Next
The Rays have one more game of the opening homestand on Wednesday afternoon. Charlie Morton (1-0, 1.80 ERA) will make his second start of the season, pitching opposite of former Tampa Bay farmhand German Marquez (1-0, 1.50 ERA).
Charlie Morton took the mound against his former team who he most recently played with for the past two seasons. The right-hander was amped up, hitting 97.9 mph on his fastball when he fanned George Springer for his first punch out of the season, setting the tone for the night.
From there, Morton threw two scoreless frames before Houston broke out on top in an erratic third by the hurler. Tony Kemp was hit by a pitch to lead off the inning and then promptly swiped second. After George Springer struck out, Jose Altuve walked on a close full-count offering. Morton was able to strike out Alex Bregman, yet Michael Brantley lined a double down the right-field line, plating the only runs the Astros would score on the night.
However, a three-run rally put Morton on the winning side of the ledger.
All told, the right-hander went on to retire six of the last seven batters he faced — a series that began by fanning Yuli Gurriel, marking his 1,000th career strikeout. Morton relied heavily on his curveball — 34 thrown, 20 strikes 59% strike rate, 6 whiffs, 30% SwStr — with which he collected seven of his eight strikeouts.
German Marquez held Miami to two hits in six innings and fanned seven. His curveball (17 thrown, 9 strikes, 7 whiffs) and slider (22 thrown, 14 strikes, 12 whiffs) were especially effective. Marquez relies primarily on his 96 mph worm-killer of a four-seam fastball and a whiffy 86 mph slider, while also mixing in a hard 84 mph 12-6 curveball and a 95 mph sinker with sharp arm-side run.
Rays 4/3/19 Starting Lineup
- Meadows DH
- Pham LF
- Choi 1B
- Lowe 2B
- Garcia RF
- Robertson 3B
- Kiermaier CF
- Zunino C
- Adames SS
- Morton RHP
— Both Daniel Robertson (illness) and Yandy Diaz (ankle) were scratched from the game while it was in play. Rays manager Kevin Cash said Diaz tweaked his ankle but doesn’t think it is anything serious. The infielder was scheduled to get a day off Wednesday anyway. Neither Robertson nor Diaz are expected to hit the IL and are listed as day-to-day.