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Snell struggles again as Rays drop twin bill

@juanctoribio
May 1, 2019

KANSAS CITY -- After being held to 65 pitches in his first start back from the injured list, Blake Snell was looking forward to getting back to a normal workload in his second start since he broke his right fourth toe on April 14. But the left-hander struggled for the

KANSAS CITY -- After being held to 65 pitches in his first start back from the injured list, Blake Snell was looking forward to getting back to a normal workload in his second start since he broke his right fourth toe on April 14.

But the left-hander struggled for the second consecutive start against the Royals, allowing seven earned runs through three-plus innings as Kansas City swept a traditional doubleheader Wednesday with an 8-2 win in the second game. The Rays fell 3-2 in the opener.

“He just could never get it right, for whatever reason,” said Rays manager Kevin Cash. “Off-speed pitches weren’t coming easy for him to get in the zone.

“You have to give a lot of credit to the Royals for not missing some of those pitches. They came out ready to go and got him for three runs in the first. He just could never make that adjustment, for whatever reason, of getting in the zone and staying consistent with it.”

Snell’s struggles started early. He gave up a leadoff double to Whit Merrifield, who came around to score on a two-out RBI single by Jorge Soler. Kelvin Gutierrez followed Soler’s single with a two-run home run off the right-field foul pole, putting the Royals up 3-0 in the first.

The Royals added another run off Snell in the third inning before adding three more off him in the fourth. The final two runs charged to Snell came after he departed and left two runners on for Wilmer Font.

Snell threw 75 pitches, 43 for strikes, on Wednesday.

“I felt good. There’s no excuse for that,” Snell said. “I feel good. They were better today. I just have to be better.”

Despite a second consecutive rough start, Snell alluded to the fact the he felt much better on the mound on Wednesday than he did in his previous start, which also came against the Royals. He also said that he felt good with the use of his changeup, which he threw 17 times on Wednesday. But overall, Snell knows his command needs to be better in his next start against Arizona.

“I think he’ll be fine,” Cash said. “Get his pitch count back up. I mean, he kind of rushed that today. We wanted to spread it out over a couple more innings. It just didn’t work that way.”

With the loss, Snell is 2-3 with a 4.31 ERA, which is the highest by any Rays starter through the first month of the season. While Snell and the Rays know that the reigning American League Cy Young Award winner needs to get going in order for the team to make a deep run at the playoffs this season, there is no concern, especially as Snell continues to progress from the broken toe.

“I have to focus on crispening up a couple of things that I saw just by watching the film, but I’ll be ready to go against Arizona,” Snell said. “I’m confident with the way I feel right now, but I have to be better and I have to find a way to do that and I’m going to do it.”

The Royals outscored the Rays 11-4 in the doubleheader and have won three of the last four games against Tampa Bay. The last time the Rays were swept in a doubleheader was June 25, 2016, at home against Baltimore.

“Doubleheaders are tough to begin with, and I think you have to give a lot of credit to the Royals,” Cash said. “They came out, and they were ready to go to win two ballgames. To sweep a doubleheader, whether you’re at home or on the road, that’s a difficult thing to do in baseball. And they just did it to what we would consider a good team.”

Juan Toribio covers the Rays for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @juanctoribio.