The Rays have been plenty impressed to see Blake Snell at his best so often the first month of this season.
Tuesday, manager Kevin Cash raved about how well he did with less than his best stuff, working into the seventh in the 1-0 loss to Atlanta.
"I thought Blake was really good," Cash said. "That's a sign of a pitcher that's starting to come into his own a little bit because he certainly didn't have the crisp stuff that we've seen him have in the past, but he found a way to battle.
"He fell behind a lot of hitters. Definitely wasn't as sharp, but give
him a lot of credit for keeping it 1-0 and really getting through that big
fifth inning jam with the lead-off triple. Hopefully, that's another step of
Blake coming into his own for us."
Snell, who lost for the first time since April 4, was not quite as glowing in his self-assessment, also noting initial issues in working with backup C Jesus Sucre behind the plate for the first time this season.
"I was frustrated," Snell said. "The first four innings there were a lot of pitches that weren't around the zone to where I would have liked, a lot of pitches that were easy to lay off. That made it harder for me to be as effective as I wanted to be.
"Looking at that, that was frustrating. The 0-2 walk to (José) Bautista was frustrating. But then I found a rhythm, I got in a groove in the fifth and sixth (inning) and the one batter I faced in the seventh. I felt a lot better. I felt like me and Sookie had a good rhythm and tempo going. It's going to be hard because I haven't been throwing to (Sucre) as much. He had to learn me again and I had to learn him again. It was good to see how quick we did get in a rhythm once when we got into a pressure situation so I was very happy with that. Frustrated with the lack of consistency in the strike zone the first four innings."
Snell did extend his team record streak of starts allowing five or fewer hits to 12.
He was the first Rays starter to take a loss after working more than six innings and allowing one run since Chris Archer on Sept. 26, 2014 at Cleveland.