NEW YORK — LHP Blake Snell still wasn't happy, having now made 13 starts without a W and the Rays losing 10 of them. But he had reason to be pleased Saturday, with a second straight improved outing, working into the sixth and allowing three runs.
"I felt like I was (doing well) but I do believe I could have done better," he said. "Everything was good, it just wasn't good enough."
Snell moved from the third base side to the center of the rubber last start and said that helped. Manager Kevin Cash attributed the improvement more to Snell being aggressive, noting he threw 60 of 95 pitches for strikes.
"I'd say it's more about establishing his fastball," Cash said. "He was driving some really good fastballs through the zone, and that got his strike percentage higher than it was."
Cash pulled Snell with one on and one out in the sixth, the Rays leading 3-2, saying he was "about at his max." Sergio Romo gave up a two-run homer to Chase Headley, who was pinch-hitting for Garrett Cooper.
"I felt good, ready to go," Snell said. "The whole point of pitching is to get past the sixth. I felt I could've kept going and give the team the best chance to win."
If you have to work on your birthday, starting in Yankee Stadium for the first time with your team battling for a playoff spot isn't so bad, as now 24-year-old rookie RHP Jake Faria will find out today. "That's a pretty good birthday present, I guess," he said. Faria will be the first visiting rookie to pitch at the new Yankee Stadium on his big day and the first in the Bronx since Tampa Bay's Jason Hammel in 2007, who beat Andy Pettitte at the old stadium. The only other time a visiting rookie started and won on his birthday against the Yankees was in 1994, a young lefty for the Angels named Brian Anderson, now the Rays TV analyst.
Pitching in the majors has already made this year special for rookie RHP Austin Pruitt. Then Saturday, he got to run the bases, stepping in for Logan Morrison after his seventh-inning pinch-hit single, though not getting anywhere as Evan Longoria ended the inning. "That was pretty wild," Pruitt said. "Completely different." When Pruitt, who started Friday, was first told to get his spikes on he thought they were "just messing with me" but realized they were serious, as they gave him a batter to get stretched out. "Kind of an ambush," Cash said. That was the eighth time the Rays used a pitcher to pinch-run, first since RHP Chris Archer in 2012 at Philadelphia and first in an AL game since Andy Sonnanstine in 2009.
1B Logan Morrison's bruised left heel checked out okay with an MRI exam, and he pinch-hit in the seventh, though running and playing the field may still be an issue for a couple of days. … INF Daniel Robertson (neck) went 2-for-3 for the advanced Class A Stone Crabs then came out after an HBP on his hand caused some swelling. CF Kevin Kiermaier (hip) was scratched with back tightness. … RHP Jaime Schultz, out much of the season with a groin strain, is back with Triple-A Durham.
. New addition DH/1B Lucas Duda homered for the second straight game, a massive blast into the upper deck in rightfield. "I don't think I've seen a ball go that far here," Cash said.
. RF Steven Souza Jr. hit his career high-extending 22nd homer.
. RHP Diego Moreno, who was DFA'd last week, was claimed off waivers by the Indians.
. Top draft pick 1B/LHP Brendan McKay, hitting .242 (8-for-33) with one homer and four RBIs for Class A Hudson Valley, today will make his first pro pitching appearance, working two innings at Abeerden.