Rays, Snell finish strong in sweep of Orioles

by Gary Shelton on October 2, 2017 · 0 comments

in general, Tampa Bay Rays

Snell struck out 13 in a two-hitter./ANDREW J. KRAMER

Snell struck out 13 in a two-hitter./ANDREW J. KRAMER

Monday, 2 a.m.

Can we start again, please?

You know, just wipe the slate clean. You can call it 4-0 Rays, or what the heck, you can call it 0-0. Either way, can we start a new season with the same energy the Rays showed in their final handful of games?

You know, with the solid defense?

With the timely hitting?

With the dominating pitching?

Can we start again with the Rays winning the way they did in a 6-0 win over the Orioles on Closing Day?

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Longoria was disappointed in the Rays' season./ANDREW J. KRAMER

Longoria was disappointed in the Rays' season./ANDREW J. KRAMER

Tampa Bay finished its sweep of the Orioles, a series in which no Rays' starter gave up a run. Blake Snell won the finale, going seven innings and striking out 13, the most since Chris Archer had 15 on June 2 of 2015. Snell allowed only two hits.

“We talked about Blake Snell wanting to finish strong and I don’t know if you could finish any stronger than what he did,” said Rays' manager Kevin Cash. “It was pretty awesome, pretty special, pretty fun to watch. We’ve seen glimpses throughout the year, we’ve seen stretches throughout the year where he can go out and dominate and that’s

Casali had a homer in the final game./ANDREW J. KRAMER

Casali had a homer in the final game./ANDREW J. KRAMER

what he did today. We couldn’t ask for more from one of our young pitchers who we know is going to mean a lot to us next season and beyond to go out there and feel good about himself, to take that back to Seattle and enjoy his off-season with.

Snell led 1-0 when he was removed, but the Rays added five insurance runs in the eighth.

Cash was glad that his team closed strong to finish 80-82, which tied for his best record.

“I'm really proud of them,” Cash said. “It’s very easy once you get knocked out and realize you’re not playing for postseason opportunities – I don’t think you ever

completely check out but it’s easy to let your guard down a little bit and they didn’t. They really didn’t. We won some tight ballgames, we pitched well, we caught the ball. I kind of expected the way they carried themselves all year long. Yes there were frustrations throughout the year and we’re not where we wanted to be but I’m proud of the way the guys finished up and they carried themselves the bulk of the year.”

Cash was looking forward to the core of the team returning for next season.

“We’ve talked about it and we’ll talk about it more tomorrow,” Cash said. “It’s the

Robertson will compete for an infield job in '18/ANDREW J. KRAMER

Robertson will compete for an infield job in '18/ANDREW J. KRAMER

nature of the business, there’s going to be some goodbyes that are said that are not going to be back here. That’s the reality. For the core, we want those guys to feel good winning together. I think as the younger guys – and myself included – we want to learn how to win together. It’s that core that’s going to allow us to do that. We’re excited about the pitchers that we have and some of the young position players. The pitchers that we have here, the pitchers that are close, that brings excitement in itself.”

Snell finished strong after being demoted twice during the season.

“It’s a good way to end,” he said, “but it just keeps me going, keeps me understanding that there is a lot that I need to do going into this offseason and beginning next season and going into spring. A lot to learn from it and a lot to like from it, but I still have a lot to do for the offseason and spring.”

The good finish didn't fool Evan Longoria.

“I’m disappointed,” he said. “I don’t think anybody should be happy if you don’t make the postseason. You come in with that goal and you leave if you have a great year personally, you always feel like you left something on the table. For the guys that haven’t played in the postseason, you don’t really know. When you have, and you know that feeling, it’s disappointing. I definitely take a lot into the offseason to think about working on both personally and as a group.

"Hopefully we can build on some of the successes we had this year. Yeah, we had opportunities until fairly late in the year. That’s all you can ask for. You obviously have to put some of the blame on yourself when it comes to performance. Just not going out and winning games. We’d love to be in that situation and have that opportunity. Disappointment is there that we didn’t capitalize. I guess that’s why the season is so long. Ultimately, pretty much year in year out, the best team at the end of the year wins. It takes a battle of attrition. It takes a group of 25 up until September and then a couple of more in September when you get the call-ups. I felt like we had a pretty good group. We were just unsuccessful. We weren’t able to put together the runs when we needed to.”

“We have a lot to build off of. Seeing Blake Snell finish the way he did was awesome. We’re going to have pitching again. There’s no victory when you are going home on the last day of the regular season. I kind of just want to chill out right now and take it all in. Start thinking about it in December about what I have to do and what we have to do as a group to be in the postseason again.”

The opposition praised Snell, too.

“Obviously Snell is a good pitcher,” Orioles manager Buck Showalter said. “You can see why he’s so highly thought of but we haven’t been swinging the bats for a while. I’m not going to take anything away from them but we scored about three runs in 27 innings. It’s been a challenge for us lately, for sure.”

Cash watched his team finish strong./ANDREW J. KRAMER

Cash watched his team finish strong./ANDREW J. KRAMER

 

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