Snell keeps Rays' rotation on stellar roll

Rookie hurls staff's 6th straight quality start

Snell keeps Rays' rotation on stellar roll

OAKLAND -- Some Rays fans might say it's about time. Others might suffice it to say it's nice to see the team's starters finally start to live up to lofty expectations.

Rookie southpaw Blake Snell added to the roll the Rays starters have enjoyed when he allowed two runs in 6 2/3 innings in Sunday's 3-2 loss to the A's at the Oakland Colisieum.

"I thought he was really good," Rays manager Kevin Cash said. "That was as impressive as any start he's had this year because it didn't look like he had his best stuff. Especially early on in the game. He was cutting or pulling on some pitches. He couldn't find the strike zone, really, but didn't panic and stayed in there. Hung through it. And really gave us a very good start."

Cash referenced the first inning when Snell did a nice job of limiting the damage. Snell retired the first batter of the inning, then he allowed four consecutive hits and the A's scored twice and still had runners at the corners. Snell then retired Ryon Healy on a shallow fly to right before Marcus Semien lined one back to the mound. Snell got his glove up just in time to stop the drive. He then picked up the ball off the ground and threw to first for the final out.

Snell allowed himself to feel good about how he handled the first.

"I definitely feel like I handled it well," Snell said. "They got two runs quick and then I kind of just let that go and said I need to attack the zone more and be aggressive."

Cash said Snell "should feel good about himself."

"It says a lot about a young pitcher who goes out there and doesn't look as crisp or sharp as we know he can be, or where he was his last outing," Cash said. "But still finds a way to give us a really quality start."

Snell came away with a no-decision and his third consecutive quality start.

The Rays have now had quality starts in each of their last six games, their longest such streak in 2016. Over those six games, Rays starters are 3-0 with a 1.82 ERA. In the Oakland series, Rays starters worked 27 2/3 innings and allowed six runs, all earned.

All of the starters have stated that a snowball effect can occur when everyone begins getting good results. Snell agreed, as he's still the new kid on the block after making just his eighth Major League start. So he spoke of the help and advice offered him by the others in the rotation, Matt Moore, Chris Archer, Jake Odorizzi and Drew Smyly.

"I'm just focussed on getting better and better," Snell said. "And focusing on what I need to do and just really try to build on it as much as I can. And then also, I've been asking a lot of questions of the starting staff and they're really helping me as well."

Bill Chastain has covered the Rays for since 2005. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.