Even when not at his sharpest, Tyler Glasnow still finds a way to impress.
Glasnow battled through a tough beginning and put together a quality outing in the Rays' 6-3 loss to the A’s on Saturday at Oakland Coliseum, allowing three earned runs off two home runs and four walks, but striking out 11 batters across 5 2/3 innings.
Glasnow got pushed, and in return, he pushed right back.
“I [was] still really, really encouraged the way Glas threw the ball,” said manager Kevin Cash. “Got deep enough for us to be happy with the way he threw.”
Glasnow’s first two innings on the bump were shaky. The command just wasn’t there, and the A’s offense took advantage.
In the first, outfielder Seth Brown, who hit a walk-off home run against the Rays on Friday night, laced a two-run shot to center field that barely cleared the fence. Catcher Austin Allen tacked on the following inning with a solo homer into the right-field seats. One of baseball’s most unhittable pitchers was getting hit hard.
In his infancy as a big league pitcher, those early mistakes may have thrown Glasnow off course. On a sunny, cloudless Saturday in Oakland six seasons into his career, he recalibrated.
The rest of the way, Glasnow looked like Glasnow, surrendering no hits and striking out six from the third inning onward. At one point, Glasnow retired nine straight batters before walking Matt Chapman in the sixth inning, ending his afternoon.
While there were positives to take away from the start, Glasnow wasn’t content with the outing, especially his inability to finish his final inning. His dissatisfaction was both visible and audible.
As Cash jogged out of the dugout to remove Glasnow in the sixth inning, the right-hander could be seen yelling into his glove. Broadcasts picked up Glasnow yelling a four-letter expletive. Glasnow joked after the game that he’d have to check his phone to see if his mom once again condemned him for the swearing.
“One inning less right there, maybe our bullpen's in a little bit more jeopardy, but Glas is a big-time competitor,” Cash said. “He doesn’t want to come out of the game. You have to have the ability to stay at it even if you get down early, so big credit to Glas.”
Glasnow’s latest outing was the continuation of an odd trend for him.
Of the 13 earned runs Glasnow has allowed this season, seven have come in the first inning, including a four-run frame surrendered to the Blue Jays on April 23. Along with Brown’s two-run homer, Glasnow walked two batters in the first inning and threw 14 of his 30 pitches for balls. The secret sauce to a smooth opening inning remains a mystery at the moment, one Glasnow will have to solve.
“I think it’s been a theme in some of my bad starts,” Glasnow said. “The first inning or so has not been so good, so I think it’s something I definitely need to figure out. I just think it’s a little annoying when you do start out the game and give up those runs in the beginning and you’re just kind of trying to work from there.”
If the offense was clicking, Glasnow’s outing may have put the Rays in prime position to win. The offense, of course, remains in the midst of a dry spell, though Brandon Lowe did crank a two-run homer to pull to within 3-2 in the sixth inning.
Tampa Bay showed more signs of life after nearly being no-hit on Friday, but the bats still haven’t found their collective groove. The ninth inning petty much summed it up perfectly.
Loading the bases with no outs against A's closer Lou Trivino with the heart of the order coming up, no advanced metrics are needed to know that the likelihood of at least scoring one run -- perhaps even tying the game with a dramatic rally -- were pretty strong.
Instead, Yandy Díaz flew out to right field, Lowe struck out and Joey Wendle grounded out to end the game without further incident, sending the Rays to a series loss in Oakland ahead of Sunday's series (and road trip) finale.
In nearly all facets of the game, Saturday was a less-than-ideal afternoon for the Rays and, by extension, Glasnow. But even with the early bumps, Tampa Bay’s ace found a way to excel, another testament to his growth on the mound.