Rays overwhelmed by another starting pitcher

by Gary Shelton on October 6, 2019 · 0 comments

in general

Snell started strong, but couldn't match Cole./TIM WIRT

Sunday, 4 a.m.

There is something majestic about them. Something overpowering. Something historical.

They come at you, one after the other, Justin Verlander followed by Gerrit Cole, followed by pain, followed by frustration.

They are the starting pitchers for the Houston Astros, and together, they have shoved the Tampa Bay Rays to the edge of the cliff, to the brink of a season-ending loss. The Rays are in a 2-0 hole because of Verlander and Cole, a pair of pitchers who will go down alongside the greats of the game.

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Maddox and Glavine? Koufax and Drysdale? Darling and Gooden? Spahn and Sain? Palmer and McNally? Wynn and Feller? Hoyt and Shocker?

Over the last two games, the Astros pair of aces have conquered the Rays. Verlander allowed one hit and no runs in his seven innings. He struck out eight. Cole allowed four hits and no runs in seven-and-a-third. He struck out 15.

And now the Rays, to continue their season, must beat Zack Greinke, then Verlander, then Cole. It is a formidable task.

Oh, the Rays had a shot Saturday night. For the second straight night, they made a little noise against the Astros relievers, bringing in a run and loading the bases with one out in the ninth. But a strikeout and a groundout ended the threat. Mind. you, the Rays won 69 games in the regular season by scoring five or more runs. They've scored three -- total -- against the Astros in two games.

“They're the top two pitchers in baseball," said Rays' catcher Travis d'Arnaud. "Both of them had over 300 Ks. Both of them had a sub-2.5 ERA. They were able to execute all of their pitches."

Put it this way: If Verlander and Cole are indeed the top two candidates for the Cy Young winner, both made strong arguments against the Rays.

"They're good," Rays' manager Kevin Cash said. "All we hear is JV and Gerrit Cole and the Cy Young race, and for good reason. It's similar to the MVP chance with Bregman coming up. They've got a great team.

It's tough. You don't want to come up short, but we've come up short the last two nights. "

Cole gave up more hits, but he was more dominant, too, with his 15 strikeouts. In his last 23 games, he's 17-0.

"Power," Cash said of Cole's strengths. "A lot of power. He had his fastball really going at the mid-to-top of the zone. Threw his breaking balls at will. I mean, I don't think anything he did was surprising. He's just that good."

Blake Snell started for the Rays and was strong for 10 outs, but his recent injury kept him from going further.

"I thought Blake was really good," Cash said. "We kind of had a sense he was going to be able to get a second gear. It looked like he did tonight. Got us a lot deeper than maybe what I was anticipating."

The Rays had a chance in the ninth inning if they had managed a hit with the bases loaded.

"We had some good at-bats, no doubt," Cash said. "There at the end, we just came up a little short. Too late, really. But really, really good at-bats. Put pressure on. Just a big hit eluded us. But part of the reason is because their pitchers are really good."

The Astros were just two-for-12 with runners in scoring position.

The Rays will turn to Charlie Morton in Monday afternoon's game at Tropicana Field. The game is scheduled to begin at 1:05 p.m.



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