ST. PETERSBURG -- Yes, the Rays are still in the hunt for the second American League Wild Card spot, so Saturday night's 2-1 loss to the White Sox mattered. However, looking to the future, Blake Snell's performance might have been more significant.The left-hander returned from the 10-day disabled list Saturday
ST. PETERSBURG -- Yes, the Rays are still in the hunt for the second American League Wild Card spot, so Saturday night's 2-1 loss to the White Sox mattered. However, looking to the future, Blake Snell's performance might have been more significant.
The left-hander returned from the 10-day disabled list Saturday night, and the results were encouraging when he allowed one run on three hits and two walks while striking out three in four innings.
"[Snell] looked good," Rays manager Kevin Cash said. "All I really cared about was that he got the ball over the plate. He was healthy and came out of the game feeling 100 percent. The strike throwing wasn't at his sharpest, but that's to be expected with him getting two weeks off."
Snell began pitching like an All-Star last August, and he became an All-Star this season after going 12-5 with a 2.27 ERA in the first half. However, he began to show some wear before the All-Star Game when he got dinged up on July 12 at Minnesota, allowing three runs in three innings, in an outing that saw him give up five hits and three walks.
Snell replaced Cleveland's Corey Kluber on the AL All-Star team and pitched in the Midsummer Classic. But he was placed on the DL with left-shoulder fatigue on July 23, making Saturday night his first outing since the All-Star Game.
Snell, who was on a pitch count, threw 59 pitches Saturday night, of which 34 went for strikes, and he looked comfortable while doing so.
"I was happy that I felt good and it was coming out easy," Snell said. "It was exciting to get back out there. I was amped. I was happy to have [Jesus Sucre] behind the plate. … Overall happy with the way I felt, but I definitely have a lot of room to improve."
Snell has allowed one earned run or fewer in 12 consecutive home starts since Sept. 12, 2017, tied for the longest such streak in the Majors Leagues since 1913 -- when earned runs were officially kept in both leagues.
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Tim Anderson doubled off Yonny Chirinos to start the ninth, and scored on Rays third baseman Matt Duffy's throwing error on Leury Garcia's bunt single. That run turned out to be the winner.
Willy Adames' infield single in the second drove home Carlos Gomez to give the Rays a 1-0 lead. Jose Abreu answered with a solo homer off Snell to lead off the fourth and tie the game at 1.
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
With Garcia up to bat and Anderson on second with no outs in the ninth, he placed a bunt to the left side of the infield against Chirinos. Duffy fielded the ball and he threw a wild pitch to first, which allowed Anderson to score. That put the White Sox up 2-1, and that proved to be the difference.
"No, I didn't rush it," Duffy said. "Not a bad grip. Just air mailed it a little bit, I guess. I try to replay it in my mind and it was just a physical mistake."
Yolmer Sanchez doubled to left in the second after Matt Davidson drew a one-out walk from Snell. Davidson chugged around the bases and tried to score, but left fielder Mallex Smith hit cut-off man Adames, and the Rays' shortstop threw a strike to catcher Jesus Sucre, who tagged out Davidson to prevent the run from scoring.
The Rays have lost consecutive games, yielding three runs and two runs in those losses. They have a Major League-most 19 losses when yielding three runs or fewer and 11 losses when yielding two runs or fewer. The 11 losses when allowing two runs or fewer are already tied with 2015 for the second-most in a single season in club history, behind 2012 (12).
YOU GOTTA SEE THIS
In the sixth inning, White Sox pitcher Carlos Rodon hit Gomez with a pitch. After a brief delay, Gomez fell to the ground, acting like he was hurt by the pitch. The Rays' outfielder smiled throughout the episode. Gomez explained that he directed his prank at Cash.
"We were playing around the other day," Gomez said. "I say, as a joke to Cash and the training staff, 'I'm the only one, when I get hit, that you don't come out of the dugout to check on me.' I tell the trainer next time I'm going to look like I'm going to die. So I see you running to me. Tried to make baseball fun."
After the inning, Gomez took a moment to explain himself to Rodon.
"Yeah, because he thinks like something happen," Gomez said. "So I tell him, I'm just playing around with my manager and the training staff."
Said Rodon: "It was pretty funny. Gomez is a good character and ballplayer. Just liven it up a little."
MITEL REPLAY OF THE DAY
The White Sox challenged in the fifth when Sanchez was called out at second on the front end of a 4-6-3 inning-ending double play. After a review of two minutes and six seconds, the call on the field stood.
Hunter Wood will start Sunday afternoon when the Rays face the White Sox in a 1:10 p.m. ET contest at Tropicana Field. He made his fourth career start Thursday against the Angels and did not allow a run in two innings pitched while striking out five. Right-hander James Shields will start for the White Sox.
Bill Chastain has covered the Rays since 2005.