ST. PETERSBURG — Since starting his season two months late due to a spring oblique strain, Tyler Glasnow has shown flashes of his dominant form from before his August 2021 Tommy John elbow surgery.
Sometimes the velocity is there on his fastball for a few innings, but not others. Or the curve ball is bouncing in front of the plate too much or the slider doesn’t slide. Other times, the physics involved in getting his 6-foot-8 frame orchestrated to deliver pitches consistently are askew. Or he can’t get in the proper rhythm.
Wednesday, in the Rays’ 3-1 victory over the Red Sox, was the start Glasnow had been seeking.
He struck out 14 — one shy of the franchise single-game record shared by Chris Archer and James Shields — of the 22 Sox he faced over six innings. He allowed only three hits and one walk. He got 22 swing-and-misses, including on 11 of the 16 sliders he threw. He hit 99 mph and averaged 96.7 mph with his fastball. He was in control and in command.
“It was a lot more similar to what it was like in ’21,” he said.
Glasnow had a list of things he was pleased about, from the specifics of his mechanics in being “behind the ball” and the consistency of the break and carry of his pitches, to the overall feel of his delivery.
“It just felt really timed up and kind of just rhythmic,” he said.
After improving to 85-55, winning a 10th series in their last 12 and, at least, staying 3 1/2 games behind the American League East-leading Orioles, who played later Wednesday at the Angels, his teammates were pretty excited as well.
Especially about the potential to have Glasnow peaking as they head into the final 3 1/2 weeks of the season and for what they hope will be a long October run.
“It’s terrifying as an opposing hitter,” said Brandon Lowe, after enjoying the view of Glasnow’s mastery from his second base position. “I would hope that this would be a good start to look at for him. Fourteen strikeouts is extremely impressive, and to go out there and do it in (a season-high 103 pitches). To induce the swing-and-miss that he had, to do it in that amount of pitches. It’s somebody that I want to roll out there on the mound pretty much every day.’'
Glasnow has been on a pretty good run, having thrown six or more innings in his last nine starts, and allowed zero or one earned runs in 10 of his 17.
“You’ve got to have some dominant starting pitching to get where you want to get,” said manager Kevin Cash. “Certainly we want to play well here in September, and he’s a big part of that. And (Wednesday) was a pretty dominating performance.”
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Catcher Rene Pinto said it was “so fun” to be behind the plate: “Everybody saw what he got (Wednesday) — fastball, curveball, slider, everything. Excellent.”
Glasnow got some help, as he gave up his lone run on back-to-back hits to open the third.
First rookie shortstop Osleivis Basabe made a huge diving play to keep another run from scoring. “Basabe’s play was gross,” Glasnow said. “That was very helpful. So thanks to him.”
And then the Rays scored in three consecutive innings. Lowe, who delivered a walkoff blast in the 11th inning Tuesday, homered with two outs in the third. Isaac Paredes hit his team lead-extending 28th with two outs in the fourth. And Harold Ramirez, who badly wanted a home run to celebrate his 29th birthday, had to settle for a two-out RBI double in the fifth.
Plus, after a sloppy showing on Tuesday, the Rays played a crisp game overall defensively — with even Glasnow chipping in on a throw to first base. “I was surprised at myself,” he said. “I thought I was going to sail it and I somehow got it to Yandy (Diaz).” And they got solid relief work from Robert Stephenson, Colin Poche and Pete Fairbanks.
But the most important thing the Rays saw was Glasnow’s dominance. The “silver lining” — as he calls it — of the spring injury is that he is strong and his workload, which otherwise would have been limited, is unbridled.
And he felt the best he has all season about what he did.
“As far as the consistency goes, (Wednesday) it was super encouraging,” Glasnow said. “Stuff-wise, too, it’s something I’ve been searching for, I guess, all year. ... I hope I can do that a lot more.”
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