TORONTO -- Blake Snell was perfect in his second start since returning from the disabled list, but Rays manager Kevin Cash wouldn't let him go all the way.The 25-year-old All-Star retired all 15 batters he faced until he was pulled after the fifth inning, but the Rays' offense put the
TORONTO -- Blake Snell was perfect in his second start since returning from the disabled list, but Rays manager Kevin Cash wouldn't let him go all the way.
The 25-year-old All-Star retired all 15 batters he faced until he was pulled after the fifth inning, but the Rays' offense put the game away with a 7-0 victory over the Blue Jays at Rogers Centre on Friday night.
"His stuff is generally always pretty electric," Cash said. "But when he's throwing it over the plate and establishing all the pitches ... that's where he puts the hitters on such defense that you don't want to get deep in the count with him because his stuff is so good."
Cash had said prior to the game that he was planning to use Snell for five or six innings after the left-hander went four innings and threw 59 pitches against the White Sox in his return from the 10-day disabled list on Saturday. Prior to that start, Snell had been on the DL for two weeks with left shoulder fatigue.
After just 47 pitches, pitching coach Kyle Snyder decided it was time to get Snell out of the game.
"Cash said I was done, Kyle told me why and I'm not going to argue," Snell said. "Kyle wants what's best for my career, future-wise and everything. I felt great, yes, but I haven't gone five innings in a month, so to be able to do that and be as consistent as I wanted to with my pitches is something that I was very excited about."
Snell confused Blue Jays batters and proved his command is back to elite form. He threw more than 70 percent of his pitches for strikes, striking out six batters and allowing just three balls out of the infield.
"He's one of the best young arms in the game," Blue Jays manager John Gibbons said. "He's just getting better and better. He has a great fastball and as good of a curveball as you're going to see in the game. … He was pretty impressive tonight."
Kendrys Morales looked like he might break up the perfect-game bid in the fifth inning when he hit a line drive off Snell's glove, but Willy Adames fielded the ball barehanded and threw out Morales at first.
Snell lowered his ERA to 2.18, moving ahead of Trevor Bauer for second place in the American League in ERA, trailing only Chris Sale (2.04). He's also now given up two or fewer runs in 18 starts this year, tying him for the AL lead with Justin Verlander.
"Overall, I'm happy with the fastball. I mean everything was really good today," Snell said. "The velocity on the curveball I was happy with. It had good bite with great arm speed. The fastball was jumping as well today."
Cash's decision to pull his starter made Snell just the fourth pitcher since 1920 to be yanked during a perfect-game bid of at least five innings, joining Rich Hill (Sept. 10, 2016), Daniel Norris (Sept. 22, 2015) and Bob Knepper (Oct. 5, 1986).
Jake Faria gave up the perfect game in the sixth inning, allowing Luke Maile to hit a leadoff infield single.
Blue Jays starter Marco Estrada kept the Rays' offense quiet for the first two innings, but he got into trouble in the third inning, surrendering a two-run homer and finishing the night with just 5 1/3 innings pitched and five runs allowed. Tampa Bay then got to the Blue Jays' bullpen, scoring a pair of runs off Thomas Pannone, who was pitching in his Major League debut.
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Michael Perez launched a curveball from Estrada over the right-field wall for his first career home run. The 26-year-old catcher knocked in Adames with the drive to give the Rays an early two-run lead in the third inning.
"I'm excited. I'm very happy," Perez said through a translator. "You're always eager to get that first one. I'm glad it came when it did."
Adames doubled twice and singled in his first career three-hit game. He also drew a walk in the third inning. Adames has reached base safely in 12 of his last 13 games and has hit .326 over that span.
The Rays will send Ryne Stanek (1-3, 2.56 ERA) to the mound to open Saturday's game against the Blue Jays with first pitch scheduled for 4:07 p.m. ET. He'll look to rebound after allowing back-to-back homers in a two-inning outing against the Orioles on Wednesday. Sam Gaviglio (2-4, 5.08) will start for the Blue Jays at Rogers Centre.
Aaron Rose is a reporter for MLB.com based in Toronto.