Snell K's 9 Red Sox as Rays win 7th straight

Tampa Bay smacks 3 early homers, Colome earns save in series opener

April 27th, 2018

BOSTON -- can pinpoint exactly when it would have fallen apart for him last season.
He had carved up the Red Sox the first time through the lineup Friday night in the Rays' eventual 4-3 win at Fenway Park, setting down Boston in order in the first three frames, including five straight strikeouts. But after a leadoff walk in the fourth to , who then stole second with one out, a J.D. Martinez ground ball to the right side caused a bit of confusion. Snell couldn't barehand a toss from first baseman Brad Miller, allowing Martinez to reach as Betts scooted to third base.
In years past -- including last year, when the erratic Snell was sent back to Triple-A Durham in mid-May -- the 25-year-old lefty might have let the inning get away from him at that point. Instead, he coaxed a ground-ball double play from Mitch Moreland, retiring the side.

It was a subtle but pivotal moment in the Rays' seventh straight win, the team's longest winning streak since 2014. As the end of April nears, Tampa Bay sits two games below .500, a remarkable turn for a team that lost eight of its first nine games.
"Last year on Mother's Day, we missed a play, and I didn't get out of that," Snell said. "I've been learning. I've been growing. I've been getting better. I've been understanding on how to handle it."
Added Rays manager Kevin Cash: "Does Blake Snell get through that last year? I can't say that he does. I'd like to think he does, but I know now that he's capable of doing that, calming the situation down, not letting it snowball."
Snell yielded two runs in a career-high 7 1/3 innings, striking out nine. He issued one walk, his lone walk in his past three starts, and he has struck out 34 in his last 26 2/3 innings.
"Hitting is hard, and I'm aware of that," Snell said. "I want to attack. I want to be in the zone."
Snell didn't allow a hit until hit a sharp grounder off the glove of a diving in the fifth inning. The Red Sox didn't push a run across until Betts doubled home in the sixth.
At a time when presumed ace Chris Archer has stumbled out of the blocks to the tune of a 6.61 ERA in six starts, Snell has been a stabilizing force for the Rays.
"He looked the part tonight, looked the part of that No. 1, elite, whatever you want to call it," Cash said.
, and hit early home runs to help power the victory. The Rays hit 10 home runs in their first 19 games of the season, but now have hit 12 in their past five games, including four by C.J. Cron and two apiece by Ramos and Robertson.

Ramos cleans up: Ramos hasn't hit cleanup often in his career. In fact, he hadn't hit cleanup at all this season before Cash started him there Friday. It proved beneficial, as Ramos drove a fastball over the Green Monster with two outs in the first inning, giving the Rays an early 2-0 lead and setting the tone for what was to come.

Friday's shot was just the third homer of Refsnyder's career, and all three have been against the Red Sox. The first two came back in 2015 when he was with the Yankees, including one in his second Major League game.

Meanwhile, the Rays' franchise-record streak of scoring at least eight runs in a game was snapped at five.
At this point, you could forgive (0-1, 2.92 ERA) if he thought the Red Sox made up half the teams in the American League. A rookie who has just five big league outings (four starts) will face Boston on Saturday at 4:05 p.m. ET for the third time in his career. He threw five shutout innings at Fenway Park on April 5. Lefty (2-2, 2.93) will start for the Red Sox.