Globe iconLogin iconRecap iconSearch iconTickets icon
news

MLB News

d'Arnaud slams door on Rays' losing streak

Catcher's first grand slam is enough support for a resurgent Snell
@juanctoribio
July 21, 2019

ST. PETERSBURG -- When the Rays acquired Travis d'Arnaud from the Dodgers for cash considerations on May 10, the thought was that the 30-year-old would give Tampa Bay some stability at catcher until Mike Zunino and Michael Perez returned from injuries. However, over the past two months, d’Arnaud has established

ST. PETERSBURG -- When the Rays acquired Travis d'Arnaud from the Dodgers for cash considerations on May 10, the thought was that the 30-year-old would give Tampa Bay some stability at catcher until Mike Zunino and Michael Perez returned from injuries.

However, over the past two months, d’Arnaud has established himself as one of the best-hitting catchers in the Majors. His resurgence continued on Sunday, when he connected on his first career grand slam in the second inning off Dylan Cease to help the Rays snap a five-game losing streak with a 4-2 win over the White Sox at Tropicana Field. It wast just the second time in franchise history the Rays won a game with all of their runs scoring a grand slam.

Box score

“It was huge,” Rays manager Kevin Cash said. “We really needed it because there wasn’t much after that. Travis has been swinging a pretty hot bat for us. He’s come up with some big home runs as of late. That was a really big one. [It] just kind of relaxed the dugout a little bit that we put a crooked number up there rather than a missed opportunity.”

d’Arnaud has been a great addition for the Rays both on and off the field. He has been one of the most even-keeled players in the clubhouse, even during the losing streak.

On the field, d'Arnaud has been even better. Since going 1-for-21 in his first eight games with the Rays, he is hitting .298 with 10 home runs and 30 RBIs. Since June 6, d’Arnaud leads all Major League catchers with the 10 home runs and 27 RBIs. By comparison, the Mets, who designated d’Arnaud for assignment in April, have gotten just three home runs out of the catcher position over that span.

He has also accounted for all nine RBIs in two wins by the Rays this season. He drove in five runs in a 5-4 win over the Yankees on July 15.

“It’s huge to be up four runs,” d’Arnaud said. “Maybe a few exhales. Definitely more relaxed body languages. It was good to be up 4-0.”

It certainly helped Blake Snell relax on the mound. The reigning American League Cy Young Award winner struck out 10 and tossed six scoreless innings. Chicago’s best chance at scoring against Snell was in the first inning, but despite having runners at second and third with no outs, the left-hander was able to work his way through without allowing a run.

“I felt good about [the start],” Snell said. “Overall, I was happy with the way I pitched. Wish I would have had more first-pitch strikes. Frustrated with that. Two walks, frustrating. All in all, it was good.”

After some bad early results this season, Snell has returned to form. Over his past four starts, he has posted a 1.64 ERA over 22 innings.

During that stretch, Snell has 31 strikeouts, and he has continued to utilize his fastball and curveball combination more. On Sunday, Snell threw 69 fastballs and got 15 swings and misses on the pitch. He got six swings and misses on the 21 curveballs he threw, with five of them resulting in strikeouts.

“I’m using the fastball more,” Snell said. “Curveball’s getting better. Changeup’s getting better, but I still feel like I’m pitching the same way. It’s just more so going my way.”

While not the prettiest of wins, it was much needed for the Rays, who host the Red Sox for three games starting Monday in a crucial series in the American League Wild Card race. Tampa Bay, 27-24 at Tropicana Field this season, will look to end its homestand on a positive note.

“That was a tough five games, and that’s why this win was so big, to give us that momentum to go into one of our division rivals in the Red Sox,” d’Arnaud said. “It’ll be a good series, and hopefully we can be up 1-0 after tomorrow.”

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