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Glasnow leaves spring struggles behind

Rays starter scraps new delivery, holds Astros in check for five
@juanctoribio
March 30, 2019

ST. PETERSBURG -- Tyler Glasnow spent the entire Spring Training trying to implement a small hesitation to his delivery with the intention of affecting the opposing hitters’ timing. But as he got warmed up in the bullpen on Saturday, Glasnow turned to Rays pitching coach Kyle Snyder and decided to

ST. PETERSBURG -- Tyler Glasnow spent the entire Spring Training trying to implement a small hesitation to his delivery with the intention of affecting the opposing hitters’ timing. But as he got warmed up in the bullpen on Saturday, Glasnow turned to Rays pitching coach Kyle Snyder and decided to go back to his normal delivery.

“I was kind of thinking about it throughout the week, and it was kind of one of those things, game day, just go out and compete,” Glasnow said about scrapping the pause in his delivery. “Today it just felt better to not do it.”

The change back to his original delivery served Glasnow well as the right-hander allowed just one run in five innings in the Rays’ 3-1 win over the Astros.

“The game was decided by the pitching, and Glasnow was tremendous,” Rays catcher Michael Perez said. “I hope he stays like that, and the important part was that we controlled the counts.”

Glasnow threw 77 pitches, with 51 of them going for strikes. His fastball averaged 96.6 mph and topped out at 100.4 mph in the first at-bat of the game against Houston outfielder George Springer. The last-minute change in the delivery seemed to surprise everyone, including Rays manager Kevin Cash.

“I didn’t even know he changed it,” Cash said. “I looked at Kyle after probably the second pitch in the game. I don’t know why he changed it, but it worked, so whatever he feels like doing is fine.”

Over the spring, Glasnow struggled with his command as he tried to get accustomed to his new delivery. In five spring appearances, he finished with a 10.38 ERA. The pause, Glasnow said, will be something he mixes in every now and then to mess with hitters' timing, but he’s going to continue to go with the more traditional delivery moving forward.

“He had more control,” Perez said. “I saw exactly what I saw from him last year.”

While Glasnow was doing his part on the mound, it took the Rays offense a few innings to finally get to Houston starter Collin McHugh. McHugh held Tampa Bay without a hit through four innings, but the Rays finally got a rally started in the fifth when Yandy Diaz led off with a double down the left field line. McHugh was able to bounce back by striking out Joey Wendle and Avisail Garcia, but Kevin Kiermaier delivered with a two-out RBI double off the right field wall to even the game at 1.

Perez, who had an impressive day at the plate and behind it, followed with an RBI single to give the Rays a 2-1 lead. Perez went 2-for-3 and fired a laser to second base to get Jose Altuve trying to steal.

“To be able to shut down a runner like Altuve, that probably sends somewhat of a message to the Astros in that it’s not that easy to walk into second base,” Cash said. “Even with Glasnow on the mound.”

Tommy Pham gave the Rays some insurance with an RBI single in the eighth inning to put Tampa Bay up 3-1. Pham extended his on-base streak to 35 games, which is just four back of Johnny Damon’s franchise-best streak.

The Rays will be going for the series win on Sunday as Yonny Chirinos takes the mound against the Astros' Wade Miley. In the three games, the Rays' bullpen has yet to allow a run.

“They’ve been outstanding,” Cash said. “The way the matchups have gone, we’ve been pretty fortunate with where the lineup is and the turnover and all that. We’re not always going to have those ideal matchups, but so far when we’ve called on [the bullpen] they’ve really done a nice job.”

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