After Tyler Glasnow cramped and cussed at various points in his last start, Rays manager Kevin Cash dryly noted, "When Tyler pitches, generally you can expect something that's gonna make you scratch your head." There were three things that fit the bill during the Rays’ 7-3 win over the Angels on Monday night at Angel Stadium.
First, Glasnow lost track of the count against Justin Upton in the second inning, getting about halfway through his post-strikeout stroll around the mound when he realized that there were only two strikes. Glasnow smiled and tapped his chest, sheepishly apologizing to a grinning Upton and later noting that he thought the umpires had called a strike on a first-pitch check-swing.
Then, an inning later, a 95.6 mph comebacker from David Fletcher found its way into an unsuspecting Glasnow’s glove. Glasnow admitted he didn’t think he’d catch it, saying the ball just “magically went into my glove.”
“After he caught it, it was fun. But in the moment, it was scary,” shortstop Willy Adames said. “I don’t think he caught the line drive. The line drive caught the glove.”
Finally, there was the head-scratching performance of Tampa Bay’s hitters. The Rays were flummoxed by their struggles with runners in scoring position during their recent homestand, and they struck out 15 times in the first six innings on Monday night. Yet they found enough timely hits early on to support their ace’s six-inning, eight-strikeout performance, scraping together a second straight win and moving back to .500 at 15-15.
“We pieced it together, which was encouraging,” Cash said. “We've been scuffling to do that.”
After going just 7-for-71 with runners in scoring position at Tropicana Field over the past 10 games, with no more than two hits in those situations in any one game, the Rays came through with three such hits against left-hander José Quintana in a four-run third inning.
Francisco Mejía and Adames set the Rays up for success in that inning, mashing the first two pitches Quintana threw to put runners on second and third with nobody out. Eventually, Mike Brosseau bounced a single off Fletcher’s arm with one out and the bases loaded. With two outs, Yandy Díaz pulled an RBI single to left field, then Manuel Margot hit another one up the middle.
“We're the same team as last year. We're all really good hitters,” Glasnow said. “In baseball with a six-month season, sometimes it doesn't happen. Pitching won't work. Hitting won't work randomly. I just think we were in one of those not-hitting slumps or whatever, but I think we all look really good and I'm happy where the team is right now. Hopefully we just keep on hitting.”
Adames padded Tampa Bay’s lead in the fourth with a 446-foot solo shot to left-center field off Quintana, and Margot gave the Rays’ bullpen more breathing room with a two-run homer off Raisel Iglesias in the ninth. It was an especially encouraging night for Adames, whose season-opening slump was as severe as anyone’s on the roster, as he ripped a double to right-center and pulled his third home run of the season in consecutive innings.
“I think everybody’s happy that April is over and this is a new month. Just try to leave the bad vibes and bad everything behind and come to a new month with a fresh mind and try to make it fun. Today, it was fun for us,” Adames said. “I trust in our guys, and I know we’re going to figure it out and we’re going to make it fun again. We’re starting to go in the right direction, and it feels good.”
Glasnow cruised through five scoreless innings, touching 100 mph more often than in any of his previous regular-season starts, before finally hitting some turbulence in the sixth. After Fletcher worked a leadoff walk, Shohei Ohtani -- scratched from his scheduled start but still in the lineup as the Angels’ designated hitter -- launched a two-run shot 427 feet to center field. Two batters later, Anthony Rendon crushed a 1-0 fastball out to left field. In the span of two batters, Glasnow allowed as many homers as he did to the first 162 hitters he faced this season.
After another walk, Glasnow escaped the inning by getting Upton to ground into a 6-4-3 double play on his 99th and final pitch of the night. Adames made a sharp stop on Upton’s hard-hit grounder, and Brandon Lowe made a smooth turn at second base. Overall, the right-hander gave up four hits and a season-high-tying four walks, forced the Angels to swing and miss 20 times, and completed six innings for the sixth time in seven starts.
“I think the slider was a lot better than it has been the last couple starts, and I just think that fifth and sixth, everything kind of just got away from me a little bit as far as timing went,” Glasnow said. “But I think as a whole, there's definitely a lot of positives there.”