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Rays need just 2 hits to win, 2-hitting Yanks

@juanctoribio
August 8, 2020

ST. PETERSBURG -- During his Zoom call on Wednesday, Blake Snell said the Rays “party harder” when they beat the Yankees. Well, on Friday the Rays got a much-needed socially distant clubhouse party with a 1-0 win over the Yankees at Tropicana Field. “It was distant, but it was rowdy,”

ST. PETERSBURG -- During his Zoom call on Wednesday, Blake Snell said the Rays “party harder” when they beat the Yankees. Well, on Friday the Rays got a much-needed socially distant clubhouse party with a 1-0 win over the Yankees at Tropicana Field.

“It was distant, but it was rowdy,” Snell joked. “Beating the Yankees, man, that’s a good team, that’s a tough team to beat. I was definitely happy with us being able to get that victory and be able to celebrate after. It’s always a good time.”

Box score

Snell got the start and held the Yankees without a hit over three frames. The Rays’ bullpen picked up right where Snell left off, keeping the Yankees off the scoreboard and limiting their potent offense to just two hits.

Nick Anderson recorded two crucial outs in the seventh, which ended with a three-pitch strikeout of Gary Sánchez with the bases loaded. Chaz Roe recorded the last six outs of the game, picking up his second win of the season.

Watch this slider break 2 whole feet

“Me going three innings and then having to cover, I mean that’s a tough task,” Snell said. “They’re always ready. … This bullpen is just a great bullpen. Whenever I get out of the game, I’m never worried. These guys are coming in, they’re getting it done, and it’s a great feeling as a starter to know your bullpen is that stacked and they’re going to fight.”

Offensively, Michael Perez had the game’s one big swing, delivering with a sacrifice fly off Yankees reliever Adam Ottavino in the eighth inning. Yoshi Tsutsugo came around to score after drawing a leadoff walk against the right-hander. The Rays, who had just two hits on the night, scored without recording a hit in the frame.

After the game, manager Kevin Cash said that in order for a team to win a 1-0 game, it has to do everything right. That’s exactly what the Rays were able to do on Friday. Using Fangraphs’ win expectancy, let’s take a look at three key plays that swung Friday’s game in the Rays’ favor.

Anderson shuts the door

Win expectancy before the play: 44 percent

Win expectancy after the play: 58.9 percent

With two on and one out in the seventh, Cash turned to Anderson to keep the game scoreless. Anderson, who is the Rays’ top reliever, quickly got Gleyber Torres to fly out to right field for the second out, improving the Rays’ win expectancy to 50 percent.

After a 10-pitch walk to Gio Urshela loaded the bases with two outs, Anderson went to three consecutive fastballs to get Sánchez swinging.

“Nick is pretty special,” Cash said. “We don’t want to put him in those situations all the time, but we know he’s equipped to go in there. You know you’re going to get strikes out of him, and his stuff speaks for itself.”

Adames’ throw

Win expectancy before the play: 36.8 percent

Win expectancy after the play: 49.8 percent

Willy Adames leads the team with five errors, which is surprising considering his strong defensive performance during the second half of last season. But though the errors have been frustrating for the young shortstop, Adames has stayed confident, and it showed on Friday.

After Mike Tauchman led off the eighth with a double off Roe, DJ LeMahieu hit a roller to shortstop. With Adames positioned slightly to the right of the second-base bag, Tauchman took off for third on contact. But Adames showed off his arm, firing an 81.9 mph snap throw to Yandy Díaz at third to get Tauchman and erase the runner in scoring position.

“Heck of a play by Willy to get that lead runner,” Roe said. “It took a lot of pressure off myself, and I was able to just spin the ball in the zone.”

Perez’s game-winning sac fly

Win expectancy before the play: 77.7 percent

Win expectancy after the play: 85.8 percent

The Rays’ offense continued to struggle Friday but was able to get the timely swing, which has eluded the club over its recent funk. Cash leaned on Perez to pinch-hit for Mike Zunino with the runners on first and second. An Ottavino wild pitch moved both the runners up, setting the stage for the Rays catcher.

Perez, who was celebrating his 28th birthday Friday, said he knew Ottavino was going with a slider, which is exactly what happened, and he was able to hit the ball in the air to center field to drive in Tsutsugo.

Was getting the game-winning sac fly the best gift Perez received on Friday?

“I think so,” Perez laughed.

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