After dropping an inexcusable game against the Baltimore Orioles on Friday, 6-3, the Tampa Bay Rays look to turn the tide in the second game of their three-game series tonight. The Rays have now dropped three in a row following a four-game home win streak last week.
The Rays have hit a stumbling block over the last few days, namely defense … or a lack thereof. Tampa Bay can now claim a humbling American League-high of nine errors, which has led to six unearned runs.
Last night, Ji-Man Choi and Willy Adames made two glaring errors — one of which directly contributed to an unearned run.
And while not necessarily an error, Kevin Kiermaier made an attempt to leap — which is vastly different than making a leaping attempt, mind you — to rob Anthony Santander of a home run. However, Kiermaier never actually left his feet as the ball glanced off his glove and over the fence. It was an odd happenstance given that that was a play has been known to make on many occasions.
For his part, Blake Snell got the start on Friday and was very good until he grooved a pair of hittable fastballs over the plate. The lefty allowed three runs on four hits over three-plus innings while striking out four on 53 pitches (37 strikes, 70% strike rate). Snell appeared to be in complete control for three scoreless frames, throwing 14-of-14 first-pitch strikes, yet three consecutive extra-base hits (Renato Nunez double and homers by Anthony Santander and Pedro Severino in the fourth inning) brought Snell’s night to an abrupt end.
Following the ball game, Snell beat himself up over the pitch sequencing that led to the two homers. Yet, there were more than a few things in which the lefty was content.
Overall, first-pitch strikes I’m happy with. No walks, I’m happy with. The way I threw the ball, happy with. The way my arm feels, I’m happy with.— Blake Snell
Snell’s velocity also increased from 94.3 last Sunday to 95.6 last night. He was dominant at times against the O’s, retiring nine in a row following a first-inning double by Hanser Alberto.
Even so, it is absolutely incumbent on the Rays to right the ship, clean up the sloppy defense, and string together consistent pitching appearances, if they are going to progress any further than the first round of the 2020 postseason, assuming there even is one.
The New What Next
Tyler Glasnow (0-0, 2.25 ERA) will make his second start of the season, pitching opposite of Wade LeBlanc (1-0, 6.35 ERA).
Tyler Glasnow was absolutely dominant over the front four innings, allowing just one hit — a solo homer to Dansby Swanson — and two walks while striking out nine. Leaning heavily on his big fastball — which he got up to 100.1 mph in the first inning — his 12-6 curveball which induced some awkward swings and misses, and a handful of mid-90’s changeups (!!!), Glasnow retired the last seven batters in a row — punching out five of them — including the side in the fourth inning. Glasnow threw 72 pitches, 45 for strikes, and coaxed 15 swings and misses (63% strike rate, 33% whiff rate).
Swanson opened the scoring in the second inning by hitting a home run to centerfield on a 98.8 mph 3-2 fastball — the fastest Glasnow pitch that’s ever been hit for a home run.
Wade LeBlanc allowed four runs on four hits and no walks while striking out four over 5-2/3 innings on Sunday against the Red Sox. LeBlanc wasn’t particularly dominant in his start, but an early-game offensive onslaught by the Orioles put him in line for the win in his season debut. Last season, the southpaw logged a 5.71 ERA and 1.45 WHIP across 121-1/3 innings in 26 appearances (eight starts). LeBlanc relies primarily on a whiffy 78 mph changeup with some natural sink to it, an 83 mph cutter boasting strong cutting action, and an 87 mph sinker, while also mixing in a whiffy 71 mph curveball with sweeping glove-side movement. He is 0-2 with a 5.17 ERA in three career outings (15-2/3 innings) against Tampa Bay.
You can read about the series in our preview, while the starting lineup and Noteworthiness are below.
Rays 8/1/20 Starting Lineup
- Diaz 3B
- Brosseau 1B
- Tsutsugo LF
- Martinez DH
- Adames SS
- Renfroe RF
- Zunino C
- Margot CF
— The Rays said Brendan McKay has been cleared to return following a positive COVID-19 test. The two-way player has begun a rehab assignment at the alternate training sit in Port Charlotte. McKay threw a 20 pitch live batting practice session on Friday. Meanwhile, Austin Meadows is expected to be activated from the Injured List during the next homestand after his bout with COVID-19.
— The Rays made an official scheduling announcement: Thursday’s game against the Yankees has been postponed, as New York will instead play the Phillies. Tampa Bay’s contest will be made up as part of a doubleheader Saturday. Teams will play two seven-inning ball games.