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Snell typically stellar in 'frustrating' loss

Alvarado struggles with command but hasn't lost Rays' confidence
May 25, 2019

CLEVELAND -- On most nights, Blake Snell allowing just one run and pitching into the seventh inning would lead to a seemingly endless line of handshakes and high-fives for the Rays. But Friday, as it turns out, wasn’t most nights. Snell was masterful over 6 2/3 innings, allowing just one

CLEVELAND -- On most nights, Blake Snell allowing just one run and pitching into the seventh inning would lead to a seemingly endless line of handshakes and high-fives for the Rays. But Friday, as it turns out, wasn’t most nights.

Snell was masterful over 6 2/3 innings, allowing just one run on four hits. But a late-game matchup of two of baseball’s top three bullpens went the Indians’ way, and Tampa Bay fell, 3-1, to the Tribe at Progressive Field.

“I’m frustrated with three walks,” said Snell, who also struck out seven. “I’m frustrated with some outcomes. But for the most part, I executed very well. … It was just a frustrating one.”

Box score

Snell’s outstanding effort lowered his ERA over his past four starts to 1.42. But the game was decided when the Rays’ bullpen, owner of baseball’s third-best ERA, yielded a pair of runs, both charged to Jose Alvarado.

“I thought Blake threw the ball really well,” Rays manager Kevin Cash said. “You look at the end of the game there, Josey lost command. They had good at-bats. They were going to make him earn it in the zone, and we just couldn’t find the zone.”

Alvarado walked three and allowed two hits in his only inning of work. He allowed a bases-loaded infield single to catcher Roberto Perez with two outs to hand Cleveland the one-run advantage. The hard-throwing lefty walked former Ray Jake Bauers to force in another run.

“I thought I was out there throwing the ball hard," Alvarado said through an interpreter. “In this game, it’s not [always] going to go your way. I thought I threw a good pitch for ball [three] on that [bases-loaded] walk. I thought it was a good pitch. But that’s the way it goes.”

Alvarado tied a career high by surrendering three runs in a loss to the Yankees on May 17. The typically dominant hurler bounced back with a scoreless frame the next night, but Friday’s loss in command and the bit of bad luck on Perez’s RBI dribbler up the third-base line marked his second tough night over his past three appearances.

“I thought today, it looked like he was initially trying to make the perfect pitch when he probably didn’t have to,” Cash said. “Then, with the baserunners getting on there, it put a little more pressure into the situation.

“With Josey’s stuff, aim for the white and let your stuff play a little bit.”

Despite the wasted starting performance and unfortunate outcome, Snell indicated that the team hasn’t lost any faith in the 24-year-old reliever.

“I love Jose,” Snell said. “I know what he’s going to do. I know what he brings to the team. It’s just going to happen. It happens to everybody. But with him, I know he’s going to keep working hard. He’s going to figure it out, whatever it is.

“He’s going to work through it and get back to dominant Jose, like he always has been.”

The responsibility for the loss didn’t all fall on Alvarado’s shoulders. The Rays finished just 1-for-13 with runners in scoring position.

The lack of a well-timed hit added to the frustration, contributing to a loss on a night when Snell continued to pitch like a reigning American League Cy Young Award winner.

“We probably left too many guys on base,” Cash said of the 10 stranded runners. “But at the same time, you’ve got to give [Shane] Bieber some credit for making some big pitches.”

Bieber, Cleveland’s starter, made the most of his five innings, striking out 10 and allowing just one run.