Former Ray Price shuts out Tampa Bay

by Gary Shelton on March 31, 2018 · 0 comments

in general

Refsnyder makes a diving catch for Rays./JEFFREY S. KING

Refsnyder makes a diving catch for Rays./JEFFREY S. KING

Saturday, 3 a.m.

Two games in, and the bats are weeping.

Two games in, and a lot of things seem to be working for the Tampa Bay Rays. The pitching has been excellent. The defense has been crisp. The team no longer looks lost on the base paths.

But the hitting? Ouch. The hitting is a single-shot weapon with an empty chamber. It is a kayak with no paddles. It is a team swinging and missing like a man trying to swat a hummingbird in a tornado.

#4 Blake Snell on the mound -3 (1 of 1)

Snell was good, but the Rays fell one run short./JEFFREY S. KING

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Ramos greeted after his seventh inning single./JEFFREY S. KING

Ramos greeted after his seventh inning single./JEFFREY S. KING

The Rays were reminded of an old lesson Friday night: if you don't score, it's difficult to win. Tampa Bay fell to the Boston Red Sox, 1-0, as former Ray David Price out-dueled Blake Snell. For the second straight game, the Rays had just four hits. They have now gone to the plate in 17 innings and have scored in just one.

This time, however, there was no outlandish comeback. This time, the three

Duffy catches a pop-up in foul territory./JEFFREY S. KING

Duffy catches a pop-up in foul territory./JEFFREY S. KING

Rays'  hitters of the ninth inning were all struck out by reliever Craig Kimbrel, who had sat and watched as the Rays came back from four runs down to win on Thursday. It was Kimbrel's 11th consecutive save.

Kimbrel has dominated the Rays. In is last 10 innings against them, he's allowed no hits, no runs and he has 26 strikeouts of the 30 outs he has recorded.

Blake Snell was a positive for the Rays. Snell, 25, looked more mature, and more focused, than he was for most of last year. He lost his first six games a year ago, then finished 5-1. He had a good spring, but there is something about seeing it in during the season.

Chaz Roe took the first loss of the year./JEFFREY S. KING

Chaz Roe took the first loss of the year./JEFFREY S. KING

Friday night, Snell allowed three hits and no runs in 5 2/3 innings.

"He’s way different. last year to me," said catcher Wilson Ramos. "He’s got more comfort, more experience.  He’s more aggressive. His pitches are working better than last year.He attacks the hitter really well. That’s the difference between this year and last."

Considering the battle he was in with Price, you could argue that manager Kevin Cash should have stuck longer with Snell, who faced only 21 batters. But after Snell gave up a sinking fly out to Andrew Benintendi and a single to Hanley Ramirez in the sixth, Cash went to reliever Chaz Roe.

Hechavarria continued to field well for Rays./JEFFREY S.  KING

Hechavarria continued to field well for Rays./JEFFREY S. KING

Roe got out of the sixth with a strikeout of J.D. Martinez, but in the sixth, he allowed a leadoff double to Xander Bogaerts. That brought on reliever Jose Alvarado, who gave up a single to Rafael Devers to drive in the only run of the game.

"Bogaerts is swinging the bat really well," Cash said. "It seems like he's make it difficult on everything we are trying to accomplish in trying to get him out. He's got an answer for it."

Snell was pleased with his effort.

"Happy with he consistency in the zone," he said. "Happy with my tempo, happy with my defense, happy with Wilson behind the plate. I felt I need to attack more. Later in the game, I felt like I was trying to get strikeouts and be too nasty. I was frustrated with that part."

Cash runs off the field for the Rays./JEFFREY S. KING

Cash runs off the field for the Rays./JEFFREY S. KING

The weakest part of the Rays' game, after two of them, has been their offense.  Chris Sale held the Rays to one hit (Tampa Bay finished with four) on Thursday. Friday night, the Rays got four more.

"We are going to get going offensively," Cash said. "There is no doubt in my mind. But we are also going to play a lot of close ballgames. I like the way we have played in those games, mistake free. We talk about the margin of error all the time. The hitting will get hot and get going, but it's two games in. Both clubs have been fairly quiet, but I think you have to credit the four starting pitchers who have come out."

The Rays try again today, when they send Andrew Kittridge to the mound. Cash would not name him before the game, but he did afterward. Likely, Kittridge did not imagine starting the third game of the season.

Robertson makes the tag on an attempt steal./JEFFREY S. KING

Robertson makes the tag on an attempted steal./JEFFREY S. KING

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