Tampa Bay Rays – Snellzilla Returns
By Tim Smart
After spending the last two weeks on the DL due to shoulder fatigue, Blake Snell returned to the mound in Tampa on Saturday afternoon against the White Sox
Blake Snell pitched well through four innings, posting three strikeouts, two walks and one run allowed on a solo homer by Jose Abreu in the third. He got away with what could’ve been another run when Willy Adames’ relay throw got Matt Davidson at the plate, who was trying to score on a double by Yolmer Sanchez. All in all, it was an encouraging outing from the Rays’ ace. Snell’s velocity was back up in the high-90’s, which is a great sign coming off the shoulder issue, and he was able to generate whiffs with his breaking pitches and limit hard contact for most of his outing.
However, despite both Snell and Yonny Chirinos pitching well (5 innings, 2 hits, 1 unearned run, 6 k’s), the Rays lost to their second consecutive game to the White Sox. The Rays pitching staff has done well to limit the Sox to 5 runs over the last two games, but the offense has been stagnant and hasn’t been much help. The Rays had their chances last night; while they only had three hits, Sox pitchers gave up six walks and the Rays had good opportunities to score in the 4th and the 6th but couldn’t capitalize.
The Rays need to be better on Sunday because being swept by the White Sox is a really terrible look; it’s in the same vein as losing three of four to the lowly Orioles. This Rays team is simply better than that and it’s frustrating to see them continue to lose to bad teams. The Rays are amidst a stretch of 16 very winnable games against the Orioles, Angels, White Sox and Blue Jays and they’ve gone 4-5 in the first 9.
To make matters worse, the Rays just placed Daniel Robertson on the DL with a sprained thumb. According to Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times, Robertson is scheduled to see a specialist on Sunday to determine the extent of the injury. But knowing that Kevin Kiermaier missed significant time with a similar injury has me worried about this one. Robertson has been having a solid year, hitting .262/.382/.415 with 9 homers through 88 games. If he ends up needing surgery to fix this issue, it’ll be a very disappointing end to his season.
The Rays will go back to the “opener” strategy on Sunday afternoon to finish the series with Chicago. Maybe most of us don’t realistically expect the Rays to catch the second wild card spot but we all want to see them play good baseball down the stretch. There’s no better time than today to start a winning streak.