'Overamped' Snell endures shortest start

'Overamped' Snell endures shortest start

TORONTO -- Most everything that could have gone wrong did go wrong for Blake Snell during the Rays' 7-0 loss to the Blue Jays on Wednesday night at Rogers Centre.

"That is the first time we've really seen him struggle," Rays manager Kevin Cash said. "I think it was a combination of him being a little overamped. It wasn't for a lack of stuff. He had the stuff going. It was lack of command and location with his pitches.

"But I think this atmosphere could have brought out a little extra energy that maybe he hasn't felt, and trying to control himself might have been a little bit difficult."

Cash was referencing the Rogers Centre crowd of 45,501 in attendance.

The prized rookie left-hander had been particularly good in his previous five starts, going 2-1 with a 2.15 ERA and striking out 36 in 29 1/3 innings. But the first inning set a negative tone for what would become Snell's shortest Major League outing.

Devon Travis singled to left to lead off the Blue Jays' first. Josh Donaldson then lofted a foul ball down the right-field line that right fielder Steven Souza Jr. camped under for what should have been the first out. Instead, the ball squirted out of Souza's glove.

Donaldson keeps AB alive

"I dropped it," Souza said. "I mean, I had to run a long way. But the ball's got to be caught."

Given new life, Donaldson singled to right. Still, Snell looked like he might escape the inning when he struck out Edwin Encarnacion swinging and retired Russell Martin on a flyout to center. But Troy Tulowitzki wouldn't let Snell off the hook so easily. The Blue Jays shortstop swung at a 2-1 slider and connected, lining a ball over the left-field wall for a three-run homer.

Tulowitzki's three-run home run

"I was surprised," Snell said. "I watched the video of it on the big board and also when I came in when I was done. I was kind of surprised with it."

When a reporter asked, "In what sense" was he surprised, Snell smiled: "I'd like to keep that to myself. But I was surprised in the sense that he got to it. I don't know, there's things I have to work on outside of just pitching the ball."

All of the first-inning runs were unearned.

Snell continued to struggle in the second, allowing an RBI single to Travis, recording his first Major League balk, and walking in a run with his fourth walk. Cash then gave Snell the early hook after 68 pitches and 1 2/3 innings.

Tulowitzki's bases-loaded walk

"He could have kept pitching, but I think the smart thing to do, given his workload, 30 pitches, then 35 or whatever it got to, that was enough," Cash said.

Snell's line: 1 2/3 innings, five runs (two earned), five hits, two strikeouts and four walks.

"Maybe I was too excited," Snell said. "I felt like I was around the zone a lot. Like I was doing good in that sense. Got behind a lot. ... Same time, two innings [68 pitches]. I'm definitely going to learn from it and I'm going to get better. You're going to have those games. It's going to make me a lot better."

Of the 28 runs that have scored on Snell's watch in 11 starts this season, only 20 have been earned, as the Rays' defense has made nine errors behind him. If anything, the walks have been the only issue.

In his past six starts, he has now issued 16 walks in 31 innings.

"Maybe I just wasn't attacking the zone like I should have," Snell said. "I felt like I was giving them too much credit. ... I'm really excited for the next time I face them and my next outing. ... [The Blue Jays are] a good hitting team and I'll get better from it."

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