ST. PETERSBURG -- Reflecting Monday afternoon on Tyler Glasnow’s first two starts of the season and the strides he’s taken already this year, Rays manager Kevin Cash summed it up like this: “I don’t think we could’ve asked for much more.”
Then Glasnow went out Monday night and gave the Rays more, setting personal bests by striking out 14 over 7 2/3 innings in Tampa Bay’s 1-0 win over Texas at Tropicana Field. He joined Jacob deGrom as the only pitchers to strike out 14 in a game this season. It was a career night for the 27-year-old right-hander -- an elite performance by one of the game’s most talented pitchers.
“I don't know how much more dominant you can be,” Cash said afterward.
Glasnow only allowed two hits and a walk while falling one strikeout short of tying the Rays’ single-game record held by Chris Archer and James Shields. He set a Rays record in the pitch-tracking era (since 2008) by forcing the Rangers to swing and miss 27 times, surpassing the previous high mark of 26 set by Blake Snell on May 12, 2019.
“I think from the start to finish today, it was a really good one for me, for sure,” Glasnow said.
In three starts, Glasnow has allowed one run on seven hits and three walks while striking out 29 in 19 2/3 innings. He already had some of the best stuff in the Majors with his high-octane fastball and curveball. But adding a slider this spring, further refining his mechanics and repeating his delivery has seemingly pushed Glasnow to another level.
Just ask his teammates.
“It was just unbelievable. It was not even fair,” said shortstop Willy Adames, who homered in the seventh off lefty Taylor Hearn to give Glasnow the only run support he needed. “If he doesn't win the Cy Young, he’s going to be [at least in the] top three if he continues to do that.”
“I think my eyes are seeing the same thing y’all’s eyes are seeing,” center fielder Brett Phillips said. “It’s just pure dominance, and he just looks locked in.”
Glasnow got some help from Phillips, who made a spectacular catch in the second inning and another in the fifth. Running in to snag an Eli White line drive to center with two outs in the second, Phillips covered 39 feet in 2.9 seconds, according to Statcast, to make a sliding play that had a catch probability of just 10 percent. Glasnow said he was certain the ball would fall for a hit, which played a part in his jubilant reaction on the mound.
“Besides that catch and the routine fly ball I made out in left-center, I could have put a lounge chair out there and just put my head back and maybe got like a water or something and watched him do his thing,” Phillips said. “That's how impressive it was playing behind him.”
Glasnow was in command from the start. He struck out the side in the first inning, finishing off each of the Rangers’ top three hitters with a different pitch -- Isiah Kiner-Falefa with a fastball, David Dahl with a curveball and Joey Gallo with a slider. It was one of three innings in which he struck out the side, a feat he repeated in the third and sixth.
The Rangers didn’t reach first base until Gallo walked with two outs in the fourth inning. The Rangers’ first hit came in the fifth, when White punched a ground-ball single up the middle -- only to be caught stealing by catcher Francisco Mejía after Glasnow struck out Nick Solak.
"I just wish that a fan could get in the batter's box against Tyler Glasnow and try to make contact on anything he throws,” Rangers manager Chris Woodward said. “They would miss everything by six feet."
After giving up a leadoff single to Jose Trevino in the eighth, Glasnow struck out White -- an out that was significant for his career in two ways: It established Glasnow’s new career high with 14 strikeouts, and it was the first time in his Major League career that Glasnow recorded an out in the eighth inning as a starting pitcher.
Yet Glasnow and the 3,627 fans at the Trop on Monday night left wanting more.
After Solak reached on a fielder’s choice grounder, Cash walked out to the mound to a chorus of boos from the home crowd hoping to see Glasnow finish what he started. Glasnow asked Cash if his decision was final, which it was. He had thrown 102 pitches, three shy of his career high of 105, but he felt strongly that he could keep going -- a point he respectfully reiterated to Cash after the game.
“I kind of wanted just clarity on hoping at some point in the future I can go more than 102 pitches, especially when I’m pitching like that,” Glasnow said. “Because I can do it. I’m confident. I know I can. I could have finished the rest of that game.”
Cash said he didn’t blame Glasnow for wanting to stay in the game, but he was trying to keep the long haul in mind. Glasnow hadn’t pitched more than six innings in a game this year, and they extended him into the eighth inning Monday night. But Glasnow said he received reassurance from Cash that, some day down the road, he’ll be free to throw more pitches and work deeper into games.
If he keeps pitching like this, there should be plenty of opportunities to do just that.
“Tyler did everything he possibly could’ve done to keep pitching more,” Cash said.