Is Cash playing it too safe with Blake Snell?

by Gary Shelton on May 7, 2019 · 0 comments

in general, Tampa Bay Rays

Snell was perfect for 17 batters./CHUCK MULLER

Tuesday, 4 a.m.

On the grand scale of all things wonderful in baseball, which do you value more?

Snell evened his record at 3-3./CHUCK MULLER

A pitcher getting a bit of history with a no-hitter?

Or a pitcher leaving the game with a low pitch count to save wear on his arm?

You can argue it. You can discuss it. You can debate it. But Tampa Bay Rays' manager Kevin Cash knows which way he would lean. Take Monday night, after Ildemaro Vargas singled to left field on Blake Snell's 70th pitch of the night, breaking up a perfect game and opening the door for Cash to remove Snell 13 pitches later in 12-1 win over Arizona.

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Tommy Pham celebrates his grand slam with Willy Adames/ CHUCK MULLER

"That would have been his last out," Cash said, indicating he would have pulled Snell even if he had a no-hitter going. "I need to send that guy (who got the hit) a case of beer."

Can you imagine the uproar if Cash had pulled Snell with a no-no going? Even in a lopsided game?

Cash pulled Snell with a 1-0 lead on April 4.

So can a Rays' pitcher ever throw long enough to throw a no-hitter? Does Cash

Garcia had three hits including a home./CHUCK MULLER

value a short night for his starter over history?

“That’s a good question," Cash said. "You like to see it come up. I don’t know. You’ve always got to keep in mind what the big goal is here, and that’s keeping all of our good players as healthy as possible. But I'm totally sensitive to what are things that are pretty cherished in baseball, especially for a player or a pitcher. No-hitter, perfect game, all of those things. They factor into your decisions. You care so much about the guys, you don’t want to eliminate those things. Hopefully if we get to that point, then I’ll make it challenging.”

Nate Lowe hit a double for Rays./CHUCK MULLER

For Snell, it was a return to the form that won him the Cy Young Award last year. In his two previous outings, Snell had lasted just 10 outs in one start and nine in the other, and he seemed to lack the command of his pitches that defined him a year ago.

This time, he was sharp. He allowed just the one hit and no runs through six innings while striking out nine.

“I think he just threw strikes," Cash said. "He controlled the count, threw strikes, didn’t put himself in any bad situations as far as the count goes. His stuff hasn’t changed. It hasn’t wavered one bit. It’s just a matter of getting it over the plate a little more consistently.”

Snell said he was fired up by his previous start.

“It was probably one of the worst starts of my career," Snell said. "So to have that motivate me throughout, I knew what I needed to do to get better. Learning from it, growing from it and getting better is exciting stuff but it never ends. Keep focusing on getting better and keep focusing on making strides."

The Rays took a 7-0 lead through three innings and coasted.Most of the damage came on Tommy Pham's first career grand slam. Avi Garcia had three hits, including a two-run homer in the eighth. Mike Zunino, Pham and Nate Lowe each had two hits.

Pham said it was starting to drive the ball more.

“The last two weeks it’s been a little bit better compared to the start of the season," Phamm said. "I still have a long ways to go.”

Zunino talked about Snell's recovery from his injury.

“You can call it frustrated. I thought he really got into a roll. He had
an unfortunate event and broke his toe. It takes a little time when you miss a start to get back into that rhythm. I think he’s fallen back into it. I thought his stuff actually his last start was good. It wasn’t the results he wanted but he made some good pitches. Just building blocks. It’s a long year. You’re going to have some bad outings, but I think his stuff showed up today.”

Ryne Stanek gets the start for the Rays in tonight's game against Arizona at Tropicana Field. Taylor Clarke pitches for the Diamondbacks. The game is scheduled for 7:10 p.m.

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