ST. PETERSBURG — Blake Snell was excited all afternoon Tuesday by the possibility of being used in relief in Game 4 of the AL Division Series against the Astros.
With two one and one out in the ninth, and his team trying to close out a 4-1 win that would even the series and send them back to Houston for Game 5, Snell got the chance.
The Tropicana Field crowd of 32,178 roared as he came running in from the bullpen. Shortstop Willy Adames met him on the mound and gave him a hug.
"I knew he had it the moment he came into the game,'' Adames said. "I went to the mound and I told him, ‘Hey, I love you man, you got this. We have your back so do your thing and make your pitches, and he did.' '’
Snell struck out dangerous rookie Yordan Alvarez for the second out of the inning. Manager Kevin Cash had right-handed options in the bullpen to face Yuli Gurriel, but decided to let Snell finish it, and he got the final out.
"We didn’t draw it up that way,'' Cash said. "As soon as Alvarez came up with a chance to tie the game, felt that that was our best matchup. We were fairly confident that Blake was going to be pretty amped up. He was. He got in the zone. We had a decision whether, you know, we wanted him after he got Alvarez to strike out, whether we wanted to go to the right-hander for Gurriel. Given the way Blake looked in the three or four pitches he threw to Alvarez, it would be really tough to take him out.''
Snell said he enjoyed the opportunity to close out a game.
"It felt amazing,'' Snell said. "It let me know it’s a hard task. I like it. When I was done I stood out there still locked in. I didn’t really know how to act. I wasn’t going to yell.''