Rasmussen has pressure to deal with

by Gary Shelton on October 10, 2021

in general

Rasmussen must tame the Boston bats.

Sunday, 4 a.m.

The pressures are everywhere, grabbling you, holding you, threatening to strangle you.

The lights are brighter. The crowd is louder. The air is thinner. The bats in front of you seem larger. There is a monster in left field. The circumstances are dire. The opposing pitcher is formidable.

And Drew Rasmussen, still standing up to this starting stuff, must stand up to all of it.

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"Postseason baseball is a little different animal than regular season baseball," Rasmussen admitted. "Their ability with runners in scoring position to not strike out has been pretty impressive to me. You've seen guys cut down their swings and put the ball in play and try to hit the ball the other way against the shift at times.

"You're taking some incredibly gifted, incredibly talented hitters, and they're fully wrapping their head around a team accomplishment. So like I said, they're not giving up at-bats. They're putting together great at-bats, and they're battling to put balls in play and not strike out."

Oh, the pressure was high in the opening game on Shane McClanahan, and he was able to endure it. In Game Two, Shane Baz seemed to be affected a little more by it. And Rasmussen, with 10 starts in his career, was still a reliever in early August.

That's what the Rays will send against the scalding-hot Red Sox, who have their ace in Nathan Eovaldi on the mound. They have the raucous Fenway crowd.

Rasmussen has faced some high pressure moments so far.

"I hope it helped," Rays' manager Kevin Cash said. "With Ras, the way he's shown his composure throughout all of those and doing that in Fenway Park, in Toronto, that was kind of the thought process on having him pitch in the first road game, maybe to help Shane and Shane a little bit."

"I think during the course of a season, you try to win every single game you play, and I don't think tomorrow's any different than what the last 162 were," Rasmussen said. "On top of that, the last two we played against Boston at our place.

"Like I said, you try to win every day when you show up no matter what time of year it is. I'm going to try to do my best to look at it that way. I know the feel of the postseason, it will probably be a little bit more adrenaline than what there normally is, but just going to try to look to minimize that to the best of my ability and actually use it to my advantage more than anything."

It will be the fourth start for Rasmussen against Boston. He is 1-1 so far.

"Like we've talked about over the past month and a half or so, I've thrown against him three or four times," Rasmussen said. "There are no surprises. There are no secrets on either end. So it comes down to execution. I'd be shocked if their game plan against me or my game plan against them changes a whole lot from what we've done over the past couple of outings.

The Rays and Red Sox start at 4:07 p/m. today at Fenway.

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