SEATTLE -- Blake Snell showed no signs of nerves in his first start in his hometown Sunday during the Rays' 2-1 loss.A native of nearby Shoreline, Snell struck out the first seven Mariners he faced before Denard Span, traded to Seattle from Tampa Bay on May 25, worked a 10-pitch
SEATTLE -- Blake Snell showed no signs of nerves in his first start in his hometown Sunday during the Rays' 2-1 loss.
A native of nearby Shoreline, Snell struck out the first seven Mariners he faced before Denard Span, traded to Seattle from Tampa Bay on May 25, worked a 10-pitch at-bat and grounded out to second baseman Joey Wendle to end the streak. The left-hander tied Joe Cowley and Carlos Rodon, both of the White Sox, for the AL record for most strikeouts to open a start and finished one short of the MLB record. Snell also bested the Tampa Bay record of six.
Snell credited much of his success to catcher Jesus Sucre, who spent four seasons with the Mariners before getting traded to Tampa Bay in 2017.
"Everything was working," said Snell, who finished the game with 12 strikeouts, one shy of his career high, in six shutout innings, allowing just two hits. "I was throwing the ball where I wanted to for the whole game. A lot of that was [Sucre]. I was really happy with his game calling. I just trusted him, he knows this team better than me. He was over there and knows a lot of those guys. I was just throwing it to where he wanted it for the most part. We had a pretty good rhythm."
The Major League record is eight straight strikeouts to start a game, set by Jim Deshaies for Houston in 1986 and matched by Jacob deGrom of the Mets in 2014. Snell also tied a club record for most consecutive strikeouts at any point during a game.
"It was really enjoyable," Rays manager Kevin Cash said. "When we took him out of the game, I think everyone went up to him and said, 'Thanks, that was fun to watch.' … Just a dominating performance."
After Span's groundout, Snell fanned Mike Zunino to finish with eight strikeouts through three innings.
"I wish Denard was on our team," Snell said. "He's one of the toughest lefties I've faced. Watching him I know he's not swinging at stuff outside of the zone, it's always going to be a pro at-bat. He's that good. … I'm happy I got him out he's going to be a tough out every time."
Despite his overpowering fastball that touches the upper 90s, Snell said his command of his offspeed pitches was key to his record-tying start.
"The fastball was in the zone and I let all my offspeed pitches play," Snell said. "I was happy with how all my offspeed pitches worked today."
Erik Erickson is a contributor to MLB.com.