Winners at last! Rays finish hot home stand

by Gary Shelton on July 1, 2018 · 0 comments

in general

Blake Snell won his 11th game of the season../STEVEN MUNCIE

Blake Snell won his 11th game of the season../STEVEN MUNCIE

Monday, 4 a.m.

From way up here, you can see hope.

Blake Snell is among the AL leaders in pitching./STEVEN MUNCIE

Blake Snell is among the AL leaders in pitching./STEVEN MUNCIE

The air is clearer here, and the clouds are closer. The blueprint makes sense. Blake Snell looks like an all-star.

From up here, at 42-41, the Rays can imagine possibilities. Continuing streaks and getting into the playoff chase. Reinventing the wheel when it comes to pitching. Beating the best teams the league has to offer.

Yep, way up here, one game above .500, all things seem possible for the Tampa Bay Rays. The sky is not only the limit, it doesn't seem so far away.

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Joey Windle slides into home after scoring from first./STEVEN MUNCIE

Joey Wendle slides into home after scoring from first./STEVEN MUNCIE

The red-hot Rays -- and how many times have we said that in the last few seasons? -- won again Sunday. They beat the defending champion Houston Astros 3-2 to run their home record (Yankees, Nationals, Astros) to 8-1, their second best home win streak in their history. (They were 9-1 in July of 2013).

The Rays held the Astros to seven runs (all on homers) in four games, their lowest since

Mallex Smith celebrates a rare home run./STEVEN MUNCIE

Mallex Smith celebrates a rare home run./STEVEN MUNCIE

June of 2015.

The big weapon this time? Pitcher Blake Snell won his 11th game of the season.

“Blake’s pitching," agreed manager Kevin Cash of what won the game for Tampa Bay. "He kind of went toe-to-toe with (Charlie) Morton there, which is just outstanding. It didn’t seem like either one was going to falter, and then (Evan) Gattis comes up and hits a big home run. But, we found a way to answer back. We’ve done that a lot lately, and it’s been nice to watch. Any time you get starting pitching -- or opening pitching -- like we’ve been getting, we’re going to stay in ballgames. It bought our offense time to piece enough together.”

Snell went 7 1/3 inning and allowed four hits and one earned run.

Romo smiles after getting his eighth save./STEVEN MUNCIE

Romo smiles after getting his eighth save./STEVEN MUNCIE

"We’ve seen Blake be really good this year," Cash said. "We talk about our candidates for All-Stars -- obviously Wilson [Ramos] is there, Matt Duffy deserves some recognition, but Blake Snell has pitched like an All-Star all half. This was a big game. We knew we had a chance to have a special series and a really special homestand, and I think he capped it off.”

“He said, ‘how are you feeling?’" Snell said, talking about a visit in which Cash left him in the game. "And I said ‘good’ and that was it. Went out there and walked Bregman, that’s frustrating because it was the only walk of the game. I think I hate walks more than anything in the world so pretty frustrating. But for us to get the win and have timely hits. Wendle’s base running. It was a great team win. Everyone is doing their part. Got to give credit to Mallex for going deep because it doesn’t happen a lot and I’m

Duffy had a two-run single for Rays./STEVEN MUNCIE

Duffy had a two-run single for Rays./STEVEN MUNCIE

happy for him."

Snell pitched in his 11th straight game giving up one run or fewer. Max Lanier of the Cardinals pitched in 12 in 1943-44. Jerry Reuss of Pittsburgh went 11 in '75 and Walter Johnson of Washington went 11 in 1914.

“I liked my changeup, but then the curveball came into play later on," Snell said. "I liked how I mixed it up. I stayed away a lot because I felt like a lot of them were sitting on fastballs. Gattis, he hit a fastball away, but he was hunting it. I could tell he was going away because I didn’t go in. The changeup was really good today. It got a lot of early swings, a lot of groundouts and I was happy with it.”

The Rays got a two-run single from Matt Duffy in the seventh inning and a solo homer by Mallex Smith in the eighth. It was the first home run for Smith since July 17 of last year, a stretch of 356 at bats.

Gomez makes a catch for the Rays./STEVEN MUNCIE

Gomez makes a catch for the Rays./STEVEN MUNCIE

“It’s a monkey off my back," Smith said. "I don’t have to worry about being the guy with no homers anymore. It was nice.”

Smith also enjoyed the victory.

“That’s the best part about all of this," Smith said. "It’s hard to celebrate your personal successes when the team doesn’t do well. The fact that we have been winning and everyone has been coming together at clutch moments has been great. We’ve ben jelling as a team. It’s been great. We’ve been feeding off one another. It seems like someone new coming through at the right time every day.”

The Rays now try to retain their focus against ordinary teams. They travel to Miami to face the Marlins tonight. Nathan Eovaldi will face Wei-Yin Chen in a 7:10 p.m. start.

Daniel Robertson can't tag Bregman out./STEVEN MUNCIE

Daniel Robertson can't tag Bregman out./STEVEN MUNCIE

 

 

 

 

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