ST. PETERSBURG -- Blake Snell continued to state his case that he's the best that the American League has to offer.Snell kept that narrative alive Wednesday, pitching the Rays to a 3-1 win over the Indians at Tropicana Field."Well, Blake, Blake, Blake," Rays manager Kevin Cash said. "He was just
ST. PETERSBURG -- Blake Snell continued to state his case that he's the best that the American League has to offer.
Snell kept that narrative alive Wednesday, pitching the Rays to a 3-1 win over the Indians at Tropicana Field.
"Well, Blake, Blake, Blake," Rays manager Kevin Cash said. "He was just outstanding. Really a strong start."
Added Indians manager Terry Francona: "Oh man, he's got the whole package. I mean, he's in the other uniform, so [you want to beat him], but my goodness. He's got velocity. Breaking ball. Changeup. Just seeing how much he's improved from one year to the next, that's pretty special stuff."
The Rays are 9-2 since the beginning of September, including taking two of three from the AL Central-leading Indians, and they have outscored opponents, 66-36, over that stretch. With 17 games remaining, the Rays moved to eight games behind Oakland for the second AL Wild Card spot ahead of the A's contest Wednesday night.
Snell, who clearly is in the Cy Young conversation, held the Indians without a hit for six innings. Jose Ramirez homered to lead off the seventh to end the no-no suspense. Matt Garza remains the only Rays pitcher to throw a no-hitter in team history.
Snell acknowledged that he knew he had a no-hitter, but he added, "I don't think about it. I focus on, 'We need to win, we are making a playoff push.' We believe that as a team, and that's our focus. I'm able to focus on each pitch and know that it's going to get us a good outcome."
As for Ramirez's hit, Snell said, "I'll look at the video to see what I could have done differently, but I like how I pitched to him. You just have to tip your cap. Sometimes you're going to lose."
Snell did pick up his Major League-leading 19th win of the season, allowing one run on one hit and two walks while striking out nine in seven innings. In the process, he dropped his ERA from 2.06 to 2.03.
Snell was "good today," Indians designated hitter Edwin Encarnacion said. "He has a great curveball and a great changeup. He threw the changeup ahead in the count and he had a great day."
Snell got offensive support from the get-go when Ji-Man Choi hit a two-run homer in the first off Indians starter Carlos Carrasco. Kevin Kiermaier added a sacrifice fly in the fourth to put the Rays up 3-0.
"Every at-bat where you can hit a home run, you feel great," said Choi through an interpreter. "Especially [today], helping contribute to a win for Snell. He's racing for the Cy Young Award, so I hope he gets it at the end of the season. I feel great in how I helped bring him the win."
PHAM TO 16 GAMES
Tommy Pham extended his career-high hitting streak to 16 games, batting .400/.473/.677 over that span. It is the longest active hitting streak in the Majors and the longest by a Rays player since Wilson Ramos reached 18 games from April 14-May 12, as well as tied for the fifth-longest in franchise history. He is three games shy of Jason Bartlett's club record (19) from May 15-June 25, 2009.
Choi has hit three home runs in his last five games, with all three of those coming with runners on base, after his first four home runs with the Rays were solo shots. He has reached base in 22 consecutive starts, batting .333/.424/.679.
HE SAID IT
"Not yet. Maybe at the end of the season. I know that we are winning and that's the most important thing. That's what I'm focused on, that's what we are focused on. All the individual stuff, I'll look at later." -- Snell, on what 19 wins means to him
Diego Castillo will start Friday when the Rays open a three-game series against the A's in a 7:10 p.m. ET contest at Tropicana Field. Castillo started Monday and pitched two innings, allowing one run. Oakland has not named its starter.
Bill Chastain has covered the Rays for MLB.com since 2005.