ST. PETERSBURG — The first of the 90 or so days they'll be without CF Kevin Kiermaier wasn't so bad for the Rays as they snapped a four-game skid in beating the Rangers 8-4.
"Obviously a feel good win for everybody,'' manager Kevin Cash said.
That started with starter Blake Snell, who worked impressively into the seventh, allowing one run on five hits, striking out nine and walking none, throwing 103 pitches.
"I thought Blake made a really nice adjustment from the Chicago start,'' Cash said. "Didn't want to nit-pick him, but he's probably getting to that point where it's okay to be a little bit more critical than maybe we have been in the past. I think he took the information from (pitching coach) Kyle (Snyder) really well in between starts. We saw the efficiency.''
Snell's only real mistake was a big one, a 430-foot homer off the D-ring catwalk above centerfield by Joey Gallo. That was the first homer Snell allowed to a lefty in his career, and the first run he allowed at the Trop after 26 2/3 scoreless innings, going back to Sept. 12.
"There were five 3-2 counts so that's frustrating, but overall me and Wilson (Ramos) got in a rhythm and I attacked the zone with every pitch,'' Snell said. "So very happy with that but still got to build on it.''
Said Texas manager Jeff Banister: "Good looking arm. Pretty challenging slider with the combination of the fastball.''
Besides the win the bumped the Rays to 4-12, what was also different was the offensive support, with a season-high eight runs, all in the first four innings. "A lot of good at-bats,'' Cash said. "A full team effort.''
Mallex Smith, who takes over in center for Kiermaier, led the way with his second four-hit game of the season, both on Mondays. C Wilson Ramos had a season high three hits. Daniel Robertson, who made a couple "game-changing' plays after taking over at third, had a homer, as did C.J. Cron.
RHP Chih-Wei Hu, called up to boost what Cash acknowledged was a "taxed" pen, finished, though he allowed a three-run homer to Nomar Mazara. Hu was sent back to Durham after the game and RHP Hunter Wood was called up.
Duffy leaves with sore hamstring
3B Matt Duffy won't know until Tuesday morning's MRI if he will end up on the DL after feeling "a slight grab" in his right hamstring stealing second in the first. He stayed in to advance to third on a hit, then decided it was better to leave. With the Rays already down a position player – as Hu was called up, then sent down after the game and replaced by RHP Hunter Wood – even a four-five required rest may be enough to land him on the 10-day DL. "I know it's a tweaked hammy, and generally those aren't the best,'' Cash said. … In the bad timing department, top 3B prospect Christian Arroyo went on the seven-day DL at Triple-A Durham due to a calf strain.
Welcome return for Moore
LHP Matt Moore had been back to the Trop a couple of times during the off-season following his unexpected Aug. 1, 2006, trade to San Francisco. But strolling in Monday with the Rangers was different, a touch emotional seeing a bunch of recognizable faces among the Trop staff. And he expects walking up the mound Tuesday to start against the Rays to be familiar — which can only help after a rough (0-3, 8.76) beginning to his season. "I think the familiarity coming through the gate, knowing where everything's at, knowing the personnel around I think helps you find that comfort, that relaxing feeling that most ballplayers are looking for," he said.
Quote of the day
"It's like the Operation game back in the day; that's my body."
Kiermaier, detailing his injuries since starting his pro career.
Number of the day
13 Majors-most times Rays have allowed three or more runs in an inning.
* RHP Yonny Chirinos, impressive in his first two starts, gets the call on Tuesday as the Bullpen Day starter.
* Always fun to see Rangers RHP Bartolo Colon — the 44-year-old is the last active player to debut before the Rays did as a franchise, starting his big-league career April 4, 1997.
* Rangers SS Jurickson Profar needed assistance walking off the field and was placed into concussion protocol after landing on his head after being slid into by Smith in the second. "i know that the way we landed was awkward," Smith said. "When we connected he was kind of already leaning forward. My bottom half hit his bottom half and it kind of catapulted his upper half forward. I knew his upper body had hit first. He didn't move so I'm always concerned of anybody's health."
* INF Brad Miller, eyeing a Friday return from a groin strain, is slated to play a rehab game Tuesday night for the advanced Class A Stone Crabs in Port Charlotte.
* Current Rays who were part of Triple-A Durham's 2017 championship got their rings Monday: Jose Alvarado, Yonny Chirinos, Jose De León (DL), Jake Faria, Andrew Kittredge, Austin Pruitt, Robertson, Chaz Roe, Smith, Snell and Ryan Yarbrough, plus coaches Ozzie Timmons and Snyder and assistant athletic trainer Mike Sandoval.
* The Rays are facing lefty starters in all three games of the series, the first time that has happened in two years, when they won two of three against the White Sox.