ST. PETERSBURG — For a while Wednesday night, it seemed the drama was hinging on whether Tyler Glasnow would get the chance to end the Rays’ five-plus year, major-league record stretch without a complete game.
Then things changed quickly.
First when Glasnow — dazzlingly impressive and amazingly efficient through the first seven innings — essentially ended his night by needing 22 pitches to get through the eighth, pushing his total to 102.
Next when new Rays reliever J.P. Feyereisen, who replaced Glasnow, blew their one-run lead by giving up a homer to Andrew Benintendi, the first Royals batter.
Finally, when the Rays rallied right in the 10th, Manuel Margot singling in Kevin Kiermaier to give them a 2-1 win and improve their American League-best record to 31-20.
“We were able to get the job done there in the end, but you always want to back up your starting pitcher with the job that they do in the way that Glas did today”’ Margot said via team interpreter Manny Navarro. “We did a good job all the way up until the end. It’s a lot of different feelings.”
Kiermaier started the inning as the runner on second. Rookie Taylor Walls, in another impressive at-bat, moved him to third with a fly to deep center. After Royals right-hander Tyler Zuber intentionally walked Austin Meadows, Margot slapped a 1-1 fastball to right. “A tremendous feeling,” he said.
“He seems to have a knack for coming up big with big hits,” manager Kevin Cash said.
Margot’s first career walkoff hit — he drew a walkoff walk as a Padre — put a good finish on what could have been a frustrating night given how well Glasnow pitched.
Dominating from the start, and working in sync with catcher Mike Zunino (which he mentioned several times afterward), Glasnow retired the first 13 Royals.
For the night he allowed three hits and struck out 11 over the eight innings. It was a big improvement over his rough outing Friday, when he gave up five runs in 4 2/3 inning and struck out only two. More impressive Wednesday was how he got there, throwing only 50 pitches through five innings, 64 through six, 80 through seven.
“(Glasnow) couldn’t have been much better,” Cash said. “The efficiency is amazing with that type of stuff. He finds a way to harness it in the zone while he picked up the strikeouts. It was just an outstanding effort.”
There was plenty of help from the defense, with centerfielder Brett Phillips and infielders Mike Brosseau, Joey Wendle and Yandy Diaz all making highlight-worthy plays.
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Glasnow, who has never thrown a complete game at any pro level, knew it had been a while for the Rays, guessing it hadn’t happened since Cash took over in 2015.
Close. The last one was more than five years ago, by Matt Andriese on May 14, 2016. It’s now 725 games, the longest such span for any team in major-league history.
“I think there was a chance like in the seventh and eighth; I was like, ‘Oh, my pitch count’s low enough, I could get a complete game,’ ”Glasnow said. “And then I run my pitch kind of a little higher and I was like, “I don’t think it’s going to happen.”
Cash said Glanow’s pitch count made the decision somewhat obvious, especially given the confidence they have in Feyereisen. Had the Rays — who have scored three runs in two games after 95 over their 11-game win streak — had a bigger lead, they might have considered letting Glasnow stay in.
“We were really comfortable going with J.P.,” Cash said. “We thought Tyler had kind of done his job.”
And quite well. He just didn’t complete it.
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