The Tampa Bay Rays ended the month of June with a 13-16 mark by defeating the Texas Rangers 6-2. The victory was the second in a row for Tampa Bay marking the first time they have won back to back games since June 9 through 10th and they win their first series since June 7 through 9th at Boston. It snaps their series winless streak at five straight.
“We talk about goals in the season. You want to win as many series as possible.” Manager Kevin Cash said. “It’s really difficult to sweep series, but if you can keep yourself to where you are in a postion to win a series as many times as possible, you are going to end up being a relly good team.”
Overall this season, the Rays are 15-7-5 in series play (7-4-2 at home, 8-3-3 on road).
Blake Snell (5-7, 4.87 ERA) picked up the win for Tampa Bay who improve to 48-36 on the season and lead the AL Wild Card by two games over the Texas Rangers.
Jesse Chavez (3-3, 2.97 ERA) takes the loss for the Rangers who fall to 46-38 on the season. He worked six innings allowing four runs, three earned on five hits striking out eight and walking one.
After the game Chavez was complimentary of the Rays approach. “This is a group that has a plan.” He said. “They’re one of the first analytical teams to come about. They’ve got their program together a little bit so you’ve to got to come out with a plan that’s going to last you for 90-100 pitches.”
Blake Snell entered the game looking to put a positive spin on what has been a brutal month of June. In his previous five June starts he was 1-3 with an unsightly 11.94 ERA (23ER/17.1IP) and the opposition batted .375/.452/.563 against him.
He rebounded in a big way on Sunday afternoon working the first six innings allowing two runs on three hits while striking out 12 and walking none. He made 80 pitches, 56 for strikes including 20 swinging strike.
His 12 strikeouts were the second most of his career (three times), his career high is 13 (twice).
Snell believes his approach and consistency were the keys to his peformance. “You could say consistency and just catch play. I felt really good last start, so the results are better this start so I guess you could say that.” Snell said. “I want to attack with the fastball. When they are swinging dictates, I shoul do something different and I’ll do that. It’s been what I’ve been doing.”
Snell hasn’t panicked with his results thus far in the month of June and hasn’t been concerned with the overall numbers, even suggesting that he’s been better this season than last. “Everything. Consistency. Swing and miss strikes, less walks, weak contact everything. The only thing that’s bad is ERA and the length that I’m going in starts so I need to get better with that.”
Snell has a point to much of what he says, the numbers do back him up. Last season he struck out 31.6% of the batters he faced while walking 9.1%. Going into today’s start he had struck out 31.7% of the batters he faced while walking 8.8%. His swing and miss percent in 2018 was 15.1% and this season it’s 18%. His hard hit rate according to Fangraphs.com last season was 35.7% while it’s just 33.7% this season.
Of course, there are a few other numbers that are out of whack this season. His left-on-base% which was a ridiculous 88% last sesaon is just 66.6% this year. His batting average on balls in place last season was a scant .241 and this season that number has ballooned to .357. Finally, his HR/FB% last season was at 10.7% and this year has grown to 17.7%.
Overall his ERA is much higher this season (4.87) than last year (1.89) but the important numbers BABIP, LOB%, and HR/FB% should regress, maybe not to 2018 numbers but closer to career norms.
Rays Get Off To Early Lead
For the second consecutive day Tampa Bay got on the scoreboard first. Yandy Diaz led off the inning with a double and moved to second on a groundball off the bat of Kevin Kiermaier who reached on an errant throw by Elvis Andrus. Diaz scored on a sacrifice fly off the bat of Joey Wendle.
Gallo Blast Gives Rangers The Lead:
Joey Gallo did the Rays a favor by bunting for a base hit against the shift in the 2nd inning. He did no such thing in the fourth when he blasted a 2-run homer to give the Rangers a 2-1 lead. The ball traveled 436 feet with an exit velocity of 109.5 miles per hour.
Rays Regain Lead:
Tampa Bay answered the Rangers pair of runs in the top half of the fourth with two of their own in the home half. With one out Yandy Diaz doubled and scored on Kevin Kiermaier’s single. With two outs Joey Wendle was hit by a pitch keeping the inning alive for Willy Adames who lined a ground rule double scoring Kiermaier and putting the Rays on top 3-2.
Pham Homers To Extend Lead:
Tommy Pham extended the Rays lead to 4-2 in the home half of the fifth belting a solo homer. It was his 13th home run of the season. The homer ended an 0-for-11 streak.
Snell Removed After Six?
Despite his dominating performance, Blake Snell was removed from the game after six innings. The move may have been strategic with Elvis Andrus and Joey Gallo due up? The two singled and homered against Snell the last time they faced him. The move may have been to preserve innings for Snell and have him as fresh as possible for the Yankees series over the weekend? Or, the move simply could have been to let him depart feeling good about his afternoon after such a trying month of June as stated earlier?
Bullpen Takes Over:
Chaz Roe allowed a leadoff single to Elvis Andrus and was replaced by Colin Poche. Joey Gallo did the Rays another favor by laying down a sacrifice bunt moving Andrus into scoring position. Poche struck out Logan Forsythe before bing replaced by Adam Kolarek. Eight of Poche’s last nine outings have now been scoreless.
Kolarek retired Willie Calhoun on a groundout to third to end the seventh and struck out the side in the eighth.
Emilio Pagan took over for Kolarek and retired the Rangers in order in the ninth.
Offense Provides Breathing Room:
The Rays offense gave the bullpen some breathing room scoring twice in the bottom of the eighth inning. Yandy Diaz led off the inning with his third double of the game and came into score on Kevin Kiermaiers triple giving the Rays a 5-2 lead. Kiermaier came in to score on a passed ball.
Rays Get Close To K Mark:
Rays pitchers struck out 17 batters, one shy of the franchise mark of 18 in a 9 inning game. It’s the second time this season they have combined to fan 17 batters or more, excluding extra innng games, following May 12 against the Yankees.
The Rays take on the Baltimore Orioles for three games starting Monday night. Ryne Stanek (0-1, 2.76 ERA) will take the open for the Rays and may be followed by Ryan Yarbrough (unofficial). The Orioles have not named a starter for Monday night’s game.