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Rays need to make it tougher on Astros pitchers

John Romano: An optimist’s view, pondering a quicker hook for Glasnow and mounting pressure on the Rays bullpen.

HOUSTON — Immediate impressions the Rays’ 6-2 loss to Houston Friday in Game 1 of the ALDS.

This Verlander guy might have a future

That was kind of what you expected from Justin Verlander. It was also what you feared. No one expects the Rays to put up a ton of runs against Verlander, Gerrit Cole or Zack Greinke, but you’ve got to make them work harder. That means getting into the Houston bullpen by the sixth inning, not the eighth.

The optimist’s point of view

Back on March 28, the Rays lost the season-opener 5-1 to Verlander and the Astros. Tampa Bay then won the next three games against the Astros – 4-2, 3-1, 3-1.

If you had to do it over again …

The game turned into a bit of a blowout, but the key moment came in the fifth when the Rays left Tyler Glasnow in after giving up a leadoff walk. At that point, Glasnow had thrown 70 pitches, which was his highest total since coming off the injured list. Two batters later, Jose Altuve launched a home run to leftfield. Was it a mistake to leave Glasnow in? In retrospect, sure. But at the time it made sense. Glasnow still had good stuff. He struck out George Springer on three consecutive fastballs before facing Altuve.

A call to arms

The pressure on the Rays bullpen just went up a few degrees. Brendan McKay, who does not have much experience as a reliever, was a little shaky Friday and Oliver Drake got knocked around a bit. Considering Blake Snell will be on a pitch limit in Game 2 and the Rays are looking at, essentially, a bullpen day in Game 4, they’re going to need quality innings from a lot of guys.