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Snell finding his form through stretch run

Lefty K's 8 in 7 scoreless innings for Rays' 4th win in a row with him on bump
MLB.com @wwchastain

ST. PETERSBURG -- Blake Snell got the job done on Sunday, leading the Rays to a 3-0 win over the Mariners at Tropicana Field.

The 24-year-old left-hander has struggled with pitching deep into games for most of the season, a season that has seen him spend time at Triple-A Durham. Entering Sunday's game, Snell had pitched five innings or fewer in 10 of his 16 starts. Sunday, he resembled a veteran, needing just 101 pitches to get through the seventh.

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ST. PETERSBURG -- Blake Snell got the job done on Sunday, leading the Rays to a 3-0 win over the Mariners at Tropicana Field.

The 24-year-old left-hander has struggled with pitching deep into games for most of the season, a season that has seen him spend time at Triple-A Durham. Entering Sunday's game, Snell had pitched five innings or fewer in 10 of his 16 starts. Sunday, he resembled a veteran, needing just 101 pitches to get through the seventh.

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Snell put nothing but zeros on the scoreboard, while limiting the Mariners to two hits en route to his second win of the season -- his first back-to-back wins since July 19-31, 2016. Snell said that things appear to finally be clicking into place for him.

"Yeah, I wish it would have come together a lot sooner," Snell said. "But I feel really good about where I'm at right now. I just have to keep working to get better."

The only time Snell did find trouble, he got some help from the defense. After issuing a leadoff walk to Ben Gamel to start the third, Snell struck out Carlos Ruiz swinging, and catcher Jesus Sucre threw out Gamel trying to steal second to complete the strike-'em-out, throw-'em-out double play. After that, Snell retired 11 straight batters.

Video: SEA@TB: Rays turn strike-'em-out, throw-'em-out DP

When asked if anything was working particularly well for him, Snell gave credit to Sucre.

"Felt like me and [Sucre] had a really good rhythm going," Snell said. "Felt like he knew what was working. He knew where he wanted the pitches to be. I felt like that helped me a lot. He's just so good back there. That made me that much better today."

Since Aug. 3, the Rays have gone 4-0 in games started by Snell and 1-12 in games started by any other pitcher. He has a 3.43 ERA over his last eight starts, compared to a 5.36 ERA in his first nine starts of the season.

"Really impressed with the way he went up against that lineup with some veteran hitters," Rays manager Kevin Cash said. "Kept attacking. Used his fastball. The zone, he was working in. ...

"I think Blake felt really good with his stuff. ... Threw a couple of sliders early that were good. The curveball was kind of the weapon that came out today. The fastball-changeup generally is always there. But the curveball was a pitch that he put guys away with and got some chase today with."

Video: SEA@TB: Cash on Snell's outstanding performance

Snell has made several mechanical adjustments during the last couple of months, none more crucial than starting from the middle of the pitching rubber. But Cash thinks there has been one key to Snell's turnaround.

"The biggest adjustment Blake has made is his intent with the fastball," Cash said. "And driving the fastball in the zone."

Those fastballs came at a critical time for the Rays on Sunday.

Bill Chastain has covered the Rays for MLB.com since 2005.

Tampa Bay Rays, Blake Snell