Rays manager Kevin Cash said the Nationals hitters' swings told him Snell had no-hit stuff.
"I mean, there were some breaking balls missed by quite a bit today," Cash said. "The fastball played really well. Curveball early on was a big pitch for him. Then he kind of got in a rhythm there where he was just picking out of a hat what he wanted to do."
Nobody would have been surprised if Snell threw a no-no, because his stuff was that electric. By the time he took the mound to start the seventh, the only remaining suspense was whether the lefty would become the second pitcher in Rays history to pitch a no-hitter.
"I saw [the possibility of throwing a no-hitter], but I didn't put too much into it," Snell said. "I feel like when that happens, you really don't think about it until the eighth or ninth inning. I didn't think about it too much, honestly."
Prior to the start of the seventh, Cash prepped his team defensively to give Snell the best opportunity to pull off the rare feat. Daniel Robertson, who was playing in left field, was moved to third, and Johnny Field entered the game to play left. Then, Anthony Rendon stepped to the plate.
After getting ahead 0-1 in the count, Snell fell behind, 3-1. Rendon then drilled an 88.6-mph changeup off the wall in left to give the Nationals their first hit.
Following the weekend's series sweep against the Yankees, Tampa Bay needed Snell to go deep in the game. His seven scoreless innings proved heroic to the team's weary bullpen.
Snell allowed just one hit and four walks while striking out 10 to earn his 10th win of the season.
"I just felt in a rhythm with Wilson [Ramos]," Snell said. "... I think I shook him off once today. He's just been something special back there. The defense was good, the hitting continued, and that's really how the game went for us."
Washington starter Gio Gonzalez struggled with his control, leading to problems in the second when the Rays scored first on a wild pitch, then Gonzalez walked in a run to bring Kevin Kiermaier to the plate with the bases loaded. When the count reached 3-2, Kiermaier homered to center field. The grand slam put Tampa Bay up, 6-0.
Wilson Ramos added two home runs, a solo shot in the fourth and a two-run homer in the sixth, pushing the Rays' lead to 10-0 while giving Ramos 11 home runs on the season. And rookie Jake Bauers continued his recent run of success, going 4-for-5 with two runs scored and an RBI.
SOUND SMART Of Snell's 63 strikes, 23 were swinging. That's the second most he's had in a game in his career (25 last Oct. 1) and the most by a Rays pitcher in a game this year. Ten of those swings and misses were on his fastball.
YOU GOTTA SEE THIS Snell's no-hitter was still in place with two outs in the top of the sixth when Nats outfielder Bryce Harper hit a ball to the gap between first and second that had base hit written all over it. But second baseman Willy Adames wasn't ready to see Snell's no-no bid end just yet. He dove to his left, flagged down the grounder and threw out Harper for the third out of the inning.
HE SAID IT "Man, he's so good. It's fun watching the progression he's had the last couple of years and especially this year. He's been great all year. I have the best seat in the house from center field watching how he gets guys out." -- Kiermaier, on Snell
UP NEXT Nathan Eovaldi will start Tuesday when the Rays conclude their two-game series with the Nationals in a 12:10 p.m. ET contest at Tropicana Field. The right-hander's undoing on Wednesday at Houston came via four solo home runs -- three of which were back-to-back-to-back in the span of seven pitches. Right-hander Max Scherzer will start for Washington.