ST. PETERSBURG — Fittingly, a few hours after the Rays received their diamond-filled American League Championship rings at Tropicana Field, right-hander Tyler Glasnow sparkled like never before in Monday night’s 1-0 victory against the Rangers.
Glasnow took a no-hitter into the fifth inning, set a career high with 14 strikeouts and allowed just three baserunners in his 7⅔-inning, 102-pitch masterpiece. It’s the second-most strikeouts by a Rays pitcher, trailing the 15 of Chris Archer (in 2015) and James Shields (2012).
“That was not even fair,’' said Rays shortstop Willy Adames, who provided the winning margin with a two-out home run in the seventh. “It was something amazing to watch what he was doing. … I don’t even have the right words to describe the way he was doing his thing.
“If he continues to stay healthy, if he doesn’t win the Cy Young (Award), he’s going to be top three.’'
Glasnow, who recorded an eighth-inning out for the first time in his major-league career, lobbied to stay in the game when manager Kevin Cash came to get him with a two outs and a runner on first.
There were thunderous boos — if that’s accurate for a pandemic-era crowd of 3,627 fans — followed by thunderous cheers for Glasnow, who unemotionally strolled to the dugout following the best outing of his big-league career.
How badly did Glasnow want to stay in?
“Very, very badly,’' said Glasnow, who has added a nasty slider to his fastball/curveball repertoire and his already imposing 6-foot-8 frame. “I just asked (Cash) if this is final. I asked for another one (batter). I wasn’t trying to make a show out there and stay in. I respect Cash a lot. He’s an awesome dude.
“I was hoping I could go more than 102 pitches when I’m pitching like that. I know I can. I could’ve finished the rest of that game. I know that’s not like the way the game is anymore. But he gave me a reassurance that I could get more pitch count (in the future).’'
Left-hander Cody Reed got the inning’s final out. Right-hander Diego Castillo collected his third save by striking out the side in the ninth, including a called strike three on former Ray Nate Lowe with the tying run in scoring position.
“He (Glasnow) didn’t want to come out of the game,’' Cash said. “I don’t blame him. I don’t think I wanted him to come out. But we’re trying to make the right decisions going forward, where we’re at in the lineup. We’re always going to want guys who want the ball.’'
Cash praised Glasnow’s dominance but was more impressed with his efficiency.
“I don’t know much more dominant you can be,’' he said. “The strikeouts came in bunches, but he was doing it in three or four pitches. Generally, when you get that strikeout total, it’s very easy to have the pitch mark he had in the fifth or sixth. For him to get into the eighth, he was awesome.
“Watching him pitch from the side when he’s on, it’s so electric. It does not look comfortable for a righty or a lefty. Sometimes, it looks like they’re missing them (pitches) by 2 feet. No fault to the hitter. That’s how overpowering his stuff can be.’'
Glasnow (1-0) struck out the side three times in the first six innings. He retired the first 11 batters before surrendering a two-out walk to Joey Gallo in the fourth. In the fifth, Glasnow lost the no-hitter when Eli White got a one-out single on a hard bouncer up the middle. It was knocked down by second baseman Brandon Lowe, who had no play.
Glasnow was supported by strong defense, especially from centerfielder Brett Phillips, who had a diving, sliding catch off White’s sinking liner in the second, then a running grab off Jose Trevino’s fifth-inning drive to the warning track.
“That was a lot of fun,’' Phillips said. “Besides (the two catches), I could’ve put a lounge chair out there, put my head back, got a water or something and watched him do his thing. That’s how impressive it was playing behind him.
“I think my eyes are seeing the same thing (your eyes) are seeing — pure dominance. He just looks locked in. He’s attacking and throwing a lot of strikes.’'
The Rays (5-5), who had just three hits, struggled to get things going against Rangers starter and former Gator Dane Dunning and left-handed reliever Taylor Hearn. With two outs in the seventh, the Rays had just six baserunners and 11 strikeouts.
That’s when Adames struck against Hearn.
It was all Glasnow needed.
“I felt really good,’' he said. “I was consistent. I felt comfortable. Some of the innings weren’t as sharp as the others, but I wasn’t trying to overthrow anything.’'
Glasnow said he had a good mindset. He got to the park late — his game-day custom — and missed the ring ceremony. The box with his ring was placed on the chair at his locker.
“It was a super special day,’' Glasnow said. “I looked at it. There was a little emotion there. It was awesome. It would’ve been cool if it was a World Series ring, but it was awesome. I loved it.’'
Perhaps it was an omen for what became a sparkling night.
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