NEW YORK — As Blake Snell strides up the mound at Yankee Stadium Tuesday night with an 10-game unbeaten streak, doesn't the miserable start to his sophomore season, when he was winless in eight starts and got demoted to Triple-A, seem like a long time ago?
To him, too.
"Far away," Snell said. "I think it feels so far because I've changed so much, and I've gotten a lot better. It's been good. It's been a process that I've enjoyed. It sucked at first, but I knew that wasn't who I was going to be. So it was good trusting myself and to see it translate to where I am now."
Snell got plenty of help, from manager Kevin Cash convincing him to use his fastball more frequently and aggressively, from pitching coach Jim Hickey moving him across the rubber to improve his alignment to the plate, to Chris Archer and other teammates getting him to take his between-starts work and workouts more seriously.
The improvements were not immediate, as Snell returned for his six-week exile to Durham and still had issues, enough that he was to be sent down a second time in early August had Alex Cobb not need to go on the DL.
But since that second chance at a second chance he clearly has gotten better:
|April 6- May 13||4||0-4||4.71||42.0||43||22||25||34|
|June 28-Aug. 3||6||0-2||5.34||30.1||30||18||16||30|
|Aug. 10-Sept. 20||8||4-0||2.57||49.0||34||14||14||41|
"We want him to go into the offseason feeling really good, almost thinking as if the offseason wasn't coming," manager Kevin Cash said. "Sometimes you that that thought you don't want it to come because you're in such a good spot. That's what we're hoping for."
Number of the day
Rays losses or Twins wins to make official their elimination from playoff contention.
Longoria on target
Evan Longoria has done well hitting homer at Yankee Stadium, his 16 in 75 games the second most of any visiting player. And with another this series, or this weekend at home versus Baltimore, he'll log his fifth straight season of at least 20. That would have him join Hall-of-Famer Eddie Mathews as the only third basemen to hit 20 in nine of their first 10 seasons; Mathews did it for 14 straight. The only AL third baseman to have nine 20-homer seasons at any point in his career is Graig Nettles; Texas' Adrian Beltre could also get there with three more this week.
* The Rays could make it official as soon as Tuesday night that RHP Alex Cobb will skip his last scheduled start on Thursday due to his heavy workload (179 1/3 innings) in his first full season since Tommy John surgery, with RHP Jake Faria the likely replacement.
* With 46 saves, RHP Alex Colome is two shy of matching RHP Fernando Rodney's 2012 team record. Five ahead of Colorado's Greg Holland, Colome is also in good position to be the first Ray to lead the majors is saves.