ST. PETERSBURG – Rays LHP Blake Snell lost his bid for a no-hitter in the seventh inning Wednesday, but picking up his major-league leading 19th win in the 3-1 victory over Cleveland was a pretty good consolation prize.
As an added bonus, Snell helped the Rays (80-65) keep alive their longshot chances of catching Oakland for the second AL wild-card spot, starting the day 8 ½ back with 18 games to play. The Rays host the A's at the Trop this weekend.
Snell had allowed only two walks through the first six dazzling innings, striking out eight and getting through the fifth on eight pitches and the sixth on nine.
But he opened the seventh falling behind AL MVP candidate Jose Ramirez 3-0, got back to 3-2 but left a curveball over the plate and Ramirez knocked it over the leftfield fence. That was the only hit he allowed, finishing seven innings with 104 pitches, walking two and striking out nine.
With the win, Snell improved to 19-5 with a 2.03 ERA, making him a prime candidate for the AL Cy Young Award as well.
The 19 wins matches David Price's 2010 total as second most in franchise history. Price won 20 in 2012 when also won the Cy Young Award.
His teammates made it easier for him, taking an early lead on a two-run homer by Ji-Man Choi off Carlos Carrasco in the first. They added a run in the fourth, when rookie Brandon Lowe tripled and scored on a screaming sac line drive by Kevin Kiermaier, who returned to the lineup after missing two games while sick.
The only no-hitter in Rays franchise history was thrown by Matt Garza, on July 26, 2010.
Snell has flirted with joining twice previously this season.
On June 25 against Washington, Snell threw six no-hit innings and then allowed a double to Anthony Rendon leading off the seventh.
On Aug. 10 at Toronto, Snell threw five perfect innings but was pulled, after only 47 pitches, as it was his second start after a DL stint due to shoulder fatigue.
Snell came into Wednesday's game having won six straight decisions, and was particularly good at home going 9-1, 1.23 in 12 starts under the tilted roof, allowing two runs only once this season.
Contact Marc Topkin firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow @TBTimes_Rays.