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Snell pulled in 1st as Rays drop finale

@juanctoribio
June 19, 2019

NEW YORK -- Blake Snell has struggled in 2019, but his start during the Rays’ 12-1 loss at Yankee Stadium on Wednesday was among the worst of his career. Snell allowed six runs against the Yankees during the series finale and retired just one hitter, marking the shortest start of

NEW YORK -- Blake Snell has struggled in 2019, but his start during the Rays’ 12-1 loss at Yankee Stadium on Wednesday was among the worst of his career.

Snell allowed six runs against the Yankees during the series finale and retired just one hitter, marking the shortest start of his career. Through 88 career starts, Wednesday was the first time Snell was unable to get through the first inning.

Box score

Per Stats LLC, Snell is the first reigning Cy Young Award winner in MLB history to have a start during which he allowed six or more earned runs and recorded no more than one out.

“Just a frustrating outing,” Snell said. “I’ve got to figure it out. I think the most frustrating thing is going only 1/3 of an inning and putting all that pressure on the bullpen and making those guys have to come out and really save my [explicit]. I’m upset with that.”

The outing began with a DJ LeMahieu dribbler down the third-base line for an infield single. That was followed by a walk to Luke Voit after Snell was ahead 0-2 in the count, and then Gary Sanchez connected on the first big blow with a three-run homer to make it 3-0 Yankees.

The command issues continued for Snell after the home run. He walked Edwin Encarnacion, and after a mound visit, registered the only out of his start on Aaron Hicks' a grounder to shortstop. Snell then walked Gleyber Torres and Cameron Maybin to load the bases. After the walk to Maybin -- his fourth of the game -- Rays manager Kevin Cash came out to end Snell’s outing.

“I’d like to see him attack better with strikes,” Rays manager Kevin Cash said. “But we are certainly confident in Blake that he can kind of get it right, and that he can get us going and be that guy that was so big for us last year and for the bulk of this year.”

Colin Poche relieved Snell, but the Yankees continued their offensive attack, which was capped by a LeMahieu two-run single that pushed New York's lead to 6-0 in the first inning. All runs were charged to Snell, whose ERA went from 3.70 to 4.40.

“We have a really good offense,” LeMahieu said. “It really doesn’t really matter who’s out there; we have a chance to score a lot of runs. Snell didn’t look like he had his best stuff. We had really good at-bats, and it was good to get on him early.”

Before Wednesday’s start, Snell said he wanted to do a better job of mixing his pitches and including his fastball more. Snell entered Wednesday using his fastball just 41.2 percent of time, drastically lower than his 51.5-percent clip from a season ago during which he won the AL Cy Young Award. The left-hander threw 15 fastballs, 12 changeups and 12 curveballs on Wednesday and had a tough time commanding each of them.

Snell said he was “frustrated” with the fact that he didn’t attack more with his fastball on Wednesday, but added that he wouldn't second-guess himself and his pitch selection, despite some questions regarding the lack of use of his fastball.

“It’s what I feel comfortable with at the time,” Snell said. “I’ve always trusted my instincts, trusted my pitching. I’m not going to stop because of what people say. It’s just not going to happen. It’s going to be what I think and want to do. It’s been very successful through my whole career.”

Snell’s issues on Wednesday added to a long list of struggles the Rays faced during the three-game sweep against the Yankees. New York outscored Tampa Bay 21-4 during the set and outplayed the Rays in just about every facet of the game. The Rays came into the series just half a game behind the Yankees in the AL East but have now fallen 3 1/2 games behind.

With the sweep, Tampa Bay dropped to 2-8 in its past 10 games. The Yankees travel to Tropicana Field for a four-game rematch with the Rays starting July 4.

“We have not played good baseball in the last 10 days,” Cash said. “We gotta fix it. We’ve been checked up here over 10 days, and we certainly have the guys that have the ability to correct some things and fix some things. We’ll lean on Charlie [Morton on Thursday], and then we’ll move on to the next guy.”

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