Tuesday, September 25, 2018
Tampa Bay Rays

Rays’ home winning streak ends quietly

ST. PETERSBURG — The sound of silence was stunning in the Rays clubhouse after Tuesday's 2-0 defeat without the E-40 rap that had become a sound track over the last month as they'd put together a streak of winning 12 straight home games.

"It is a little weird,'' manager Kevin Cash said. "But, you know what we can start another one here, we can get going. The guys have played really, really well.''

Certainly, he's right. Not only had the Rays posted the dozen W's at home, but they'd won eight of their last nine and 17 of 20.

But also, the clock is ticking and the margin for losses dwindling. If the Rays are serious about their long-shot chances of catching Oakland in the race for the second American League wild-card — the merit of which is another conversation — they really can't afford to lose again. Not often anyway.

Tuesday's loss to the Indians, combined with the A's win in Baltimore, left the Rays 8½ games back with only 18 to play. If the A's go 9-8 in their remaining games, the Rays have to win out to tie. So with the A's coming to the Trop for a weekend series, the Rays obviously need to be as close as they can to make it matter.

Fortunately, they will have the right man on the mound for Wednesday's matinee, their ace and lead playoff pusher, Blake Snell.

"I really think this team can do it,'' he said Tuesday. "I think we can prove a lot of people wrong. Just got to keep playing the baseball we've been playing.''

Tuesday's loss was a result of a break in that pattern, in that they had been swinging big bats, averaging 6.33 runs over the previous 18 games.

But they were shut down and shut out Tuesday by Shane Bieber, with help from two reliever, limited to four hits. Their best opportunity came in the seventh when they loaded the bases on a double and two walks, but Mallex Smith popped out, and they couldn't stir up any of the ninth-inning magic that saved them on Monday.

"You've got to give credit when you run into a little bit of a buzz saw on the other team's mound; that's what's going to happen,'' Cash said. "But couldn't be more impressed with the way that we continue to show up and compete.''

The good news for the Rays (79-65) was the bounceback performance by starter Tyler Glasnow from his brutally bad last outing. Improving on allowing seven runs while lasting less than an inning wasn't going to be hard, and he did way better, working seven solid innings without a walk, and allowing six hits, throwing only 90 pitches, completing two innings with six each.

The problem was that two were solo home runs, a shot by Yan Gomes on a hanging curveball in the fifth and a 422-foot blast on a fastball Edwin Encarnacion destroyed in the sixth.

"I thought Tyler was outstanding,'' Cash said. "Really impressed with the way he bounced back.''

Glasnow was relieved, if not pleased. But while he had better command of the curveball and slider that was lacking last week in Toronto, the velocity on his fastball was down a bit into the mid 90s.

"Just one of those days. I don't know,'' he said.

The Rays are going to need some help in catching Oakland, and it looked Tuesday like they might get it from old friend Alex Cobb, who started for the Orioles against the A's. But after posting two scoreless innings, Cobb was forced out due to recurrence of a blister issue (the same one that kept him from pitching Sunday against the Rays) and then the Baltimore bullpen promptly gave up the three runs that made the difference in Oakland's 3-2 win. (Also of note, for any of you who were uber optimistic, Tuesday's loss also eliminated the Rays from the American League East race.)

Having lost at the Trop for the first time since Aug. 8, the Rays are buoyed by having Snell on the mound.

Snell has arguably the best base numbers of any pitcher in the majors at 18-5, 2.06 and is even better under the tilted Trop roof, 9-1, 1.23 in 12 starts, allowing more than one earned run only once, in his last outing (and on his final pitch).

The Rays, understandably, have a sense of confidence when he is on the bump.

"Pretty high,'' Cash said. "It's tough to dispute that. Blake, we talk about what he's done this year, we use that word "ace" or "elite." Anytime you have that type of feeling when a guy takes the mound it's a good feeling for the offense and the defense. …

"There's a confidence, there's an air about him when he takes the mound, and we feel like we've got really good chances with him on the mound.''

Really, really good.

"When he pitches, it's not only the confidence he brings to us, it's the show we're going to see that day,'' outfielder Carlos Gomez said. "When you see the season he has put together this season, you see how talented he is. You see every time a guy going to the mound and striking out double digits almost every time that he pitches. Listen and you hear the other players saying, I can't wait until you change pitchers, I can't see the ball, that guy is unbelievable. That is impressive. … We feel (confident) when he's on the mound — imagine how they feel.''

Contact Marc Topkin at [email protected] Follow @TBTimes_Rays.

Comments
Rays journal: Sound familiar? Yankees make Monday a ‘Bullpen Day’

Rays journal: Sound familiar? Yankees make Monday a ‘Bullpen Day’

ST. PETERSBURG — In an effort to line up their pitching staff for the postseason, the Yankees stole a page out of the Rays playbook Monday night. New York designated the game  a "bullpen day" and did it ever use its bullpen.RHP Jonathan Ho...
Updated: 9 hours ago
Playoffs gone but goals aren’t for Rays to finish season

Playoffs gone but goals aren’t for Rays to finish season

ST. PETERSBURG — The Rays' postseason hopes, as unlikely as they had seemed, officially ended with Monday's 4-1 loss to the Yankees, manager Kevin Cash speaking for many saying they should be proud of what they did.And that doesn't mean they do...
Updated: 9 hours ago
Marc Topkin’s takeaways from Monday’s Rays-Yankees game

Marc Topkin’s takeaways from Monday’s Rays-Yankees game

LHP Ryan Yarbrough wasn't horrible, but he wasn't fooling anybody as the Yankees scored three in his five innings, rapping five hits, including four doubles. Yarbrough, who hadn't lost since July 21 and has a rookie-high 15 wins, also walked two, hit...
Updated: 8 hours ago
For starters: Kevin Kiermaier out of lineup as Rays host Yankees

For starters: Kevin Kiermaier out of lineup as Rays host Yankees

Rays centerfielder Kevin Kiermaier is out of the starting lineup tonight against the Yankees with a sore shoulder. He will be available if needed.The same goes for SS Willy Adames, who was held out Sunday due to illlness. Mallex Smith takes over...
Published: 09/24/18
Snell wins No. 21 as Rays beat Blue Jays 5-2

Snell wins No. 21 as Rays beat Blue Jays 5-2

TORONTO — Blake Snell doesn't look like he can be stopped.He pitched again for the Rays in Sunday's 5-2 victory over the Blue Jays, he dominated again and he won again.That's both a major-league-leading and team-record-breaking 21st victory for...
Published: 09/23/18
Marc Topkin’s takeaways from Sunday’s Rays-Blue Jays game

Marc Topkin’s takeaways from Sunday’s Rays-Blue Jays game

Part of what makes LHP Blake Snell so good is his deep, high-quality repertoire, having four above-average pitches, which is more than most. When fastball command isn't sharp, he can still beat you with an assortment of top-notch curves, sliders and ...
Published: 09/23/18
Rays journal: Teammates come through for Blake Snell

Rays journal: Teammates come through for Blake Snell

TORONTO — LHP Blake Snell knows he is the one getting all the attention for the remarkable season he has compiled, but he wants to make sure his teammates get some of the credit."It's cool that it's under my name,'' Snell said, "but it's all of...
Published: 09/23/18
For starters: Rays at Jays, with Snell seeking No. 21

For starters: Rays at Jays, with Snell seeking No. 21

UPDATE, 12:14: Snell takes the mound today leading the AL in wins, ERA (1.97) and opponents average (.179). … Cash noted that Snell "is in elite company now with the Rays, and he has the chance to stand alone." …  The Rays note that ...
Published: 09/23/18
Rays journal: Blue Jays spoil wild-card bid

Rays journal: Blue Jays spoil wild-card bid

TORONTO — There was no drama, no emotional rescues after Saturday's game.After feeling, appropriately, crushed after they gave away Thursday's game, blowing a six-run lead in the ninth, then bouncing back Friday, the Rays on Saturday faced a st...
Published: 09/22/18
Updated: 09/23/18
Marc Topkin’s takeaways from Saturday’s Rays-Blue Jays game

Marc Topkin’s takeaways from Saturday’s Rays-Blue Jays game

OF Tommy Pham insists he doesn't feel locked in at the plate. Interesting, since it's hard to imagine he could get much hotter: 345 in 31 games since coming to the Rays and .402 while reaching base in 24 straight games, a career best and current AL h...
Published: 09/22/18