BOSTON — This was about the best thing you could say about second-year LHP Blake Snell's start in Monday's 4-3 loss to the Red Sox:
"Still some good, still some not so good," manager Kevin Cash said.
"The pitch count is the thing. He's got to get the ball over the plate. We talk about it all the time. Like the fact he was able to make an adjustment and went to his off-speed pitches, and I think that allowed him to get to where he got in the game."
That, though, was only through five innings, which isn't enough. Worse, it took him 102 pitches to get there.
The one thing Snell does deserve credit for was adjusting, as Cash said, and getting some quicker outs. That after throwing 66 pitches in the first two innings, including 24 after 2B Brad Miller's error on a simple play extended the second.
"I just need to keep attacking the zone," Snell said. "That's what I've been telling myself. I just need to do it, and continue to do it."
The two walks Snell allowed Monday gave him 10 for the season in 161/3 innings, but he said overall he is pleased with his progress. "Definitely feel really confident in my ability right now," he said. "Definitely happy in the direction I'm going."
This must be a sign of something
Since LHP Blake Snell was called up (presumably) for good last June, teams have scored 15 unearned runs when he's on the mound, most in the AL. Overall, that's 27 percent of the 55 runs he has allowed.
Will Kate Upton still be talking dirty?
RHP Justin Verlander won't be on the mound for the Tigers in this series, but the bigger question is whether fiancee Kate Upton will be in the stands. Or the Tropicana Field press box. After Verlander finished second in the '16 AL Cy Young Award voting, the supermodel unleashed a series of tweets — including one quite colorfully NSFW — ripping Tampa Bay BBWAA chapter voters Bill Chastain (of mlb.com) and Fred Goodall (Associated Press) for leaving him off their ballots. From what was printable, Upton — who has made the Tampa Bay trip several times — said, in various tweets, the two long-time journalists were "out of touch" and had been "paid off," and that MLB should "keep up with the times and fire those writers."
Souza vs. Red Sox fans
Rays RF Steven Souza Jr. was the center of Fenway fans' attention Monday after popping a balloon that came on the field. "They were just mad," he said. "It was a good time out there. There were some, 'You suck, Souza's out there, some 'Go home, Souza's. Just some good Boston fans having a good time." Souza saluted them with dance moves. "I was kind of dancing to the chant, smiling, having some fun with them." As for the balloon he burst to start it all? "It was white, with a Boston logo on it," he said. "So it was perfect."
Matching with Matt
It will be interesting to see whom the Rays have behind the plate tonight as RHP Matt Andriese opens the series against the Tigers. Andriese pitched much better in his second start, with Jesus Sucre catching, than in his first when paired with Derek Norris. And Sucre is better at shutting down the running game.
Detroit's visit means a return to the Trop for OF Mikie Mahtook. The 2011 first-round draft pick played parts of two seasons for the Rays (2015 good, '16 not so much) and was traded in January for either a player to be named or cash, which has not yet been resolved. "It's going to be a little different being in the opposite dugout," Mahtook said via text. "I'm definitely looking forward to seeing the guys and catching up." Mahtook is hitting .133 (2-for-15) and has made only four starts.
. RHP Erasmo Ramirez will start Thursday in place of injured RHP Jake Odorizzi, who is on the 10-day DL with a hamstring strain. RHP Chase Whitley, who was called up Sunday, worked in relief Monday and is likely to replace Ramirez as the long reliever.
. The Rays struck out 11 more times Monday, making it 40 for the past three games and in double digits for six of the seven games on the trip. Overall, they lead the majors with 150.