ST. PETERSBURG — The Astros were, obviously, quite aware that Tyler Glasnow was tipping his pitches based on the position of his glove at the start of Thursday’s decisive American League Division Series game.
Five of their first six batters whacked hits to give them a 4-0 lead en route to a 6-1 win.
The Rays had a sense, too, but couldn’t really do anything about it. Manager Kevin Cash said Friday that it’s not something pitching coach Kyle Snyder can simply run to the mound and have Glasnow address.
“I think that’s kind of challenging to do that,” Cash said. “The last thing you want to do — these pitchers are so locked in, and Glas was certainly locked in — is go out there and ask him, give him the heads-up, and then he’s not focusing on what he should be focusing on and that’s getting hitters out and throwing strikes.”
Plus, Cash reiterated that he didn’t consider the pitch tipping — essentially whether Glasnow was throwing fastball or curve based on where his hands were set in his delivery — to be the root cause of the rough start.
”Tyler Glasnow is the not the only guy that’s ever done that,” Cash said. “There’s a lot of pitchers in baseball that do that. I still think you have to give a ton of credit to the Houston Astros. That lineup, what they did against those types of pitches, is really impressive. I understand the story, but how quickly that unfolded, give all the credit to Houston’s hitters.”
Glasnow realized “something was weird” but then worked a 1-2-3 second. He then retired the first two batters of the third before being taken out. When Glasnow looked back at the video, he said it was “pretty obvious” he was tipping in the first inning, but “it wasn’t as drastic” in the second.
Glasnow agreed that it’s a difficult thing to address in-game. “I’ve done it in starts prior and people don’t pick up on it, but a team like that (does),” he said.
Good riddance, in a respectful way
The Astros head to a tough showdown with the Yankees in the AL Championship Series that starts tonight, but they were glad to be done battling with the Rays, specifically the creative and effective way they ran their pitching staff, keeping hitters from getting a second look at the same guy.
“This is top to bottom probably the best pitching staff that we faced all year,” manager A.J. Hinch said. “And that’s not disrespecting anybody else in the league, that’s just how good they are and how they match their guys up in their favor. And in a short series, it’s scary as hell because they can get matchups and you have to beat their strength. And fortunately we were able to do that.”
The Astros did, hitting .242, launching six homers and scoring 19 runs.
“It’s hard to win games where you know the other side is going to do anything possible,” Hinch said. “If you take a step back and look at what they were willing to do to change things, like Blake Snell coming out of the bullpen twice. They had guys up every inning.
“We were spending just as much time looking on the TV monitor to see who was warming up and what they possibly were going to do than even watching what was going on in the field. That preparation is exhausting.”
Quote of the day
“I would make the argument that we were as fun a team to watch over 6½ months as any team in baseball.”
Rays manager Kevin Cash
• Cash said he doesn’t “anticipate” any changes to his coaching staff, unless someone gets hired away for another job. He suggested they have some staffers that will get called on. They lost Rocco Baldelli (hired as Twins manager) and Charlie Montoyo (Blue Jays) after last season.
• Second baseman Brandon Lowe was replaced in the starting lineup Thursday by Eric Sogard, who homered. Lowe had sustained a slight groin strain but was available to hit.
• The Rays didn’t do much in two games against Astros co-ace Gerrit Cole, but on Thursday they did snap his remarkable streak of consecutive innings with a strikeout at 73 — longest in the expansion era by 33! — when Willy Adames grounded out and Austin Meadows and Tommy Pham flied out in the third.