Snell veers off course, can't navigate past 6th

Snell veers off course, can't navigate past 6th

ST. PETERSBURG -- Rays starter Blake Snell pitched into the sixth inning on Monday night, he just didn't get anybody out in the sixth.

So once again, the enigmatic lefty continued with his struggles to pitch late into the game while moving to 0-3 on the season in a 7-3 loss to the Royals.

Snell allowed four runs on 10 hits and a walk while striking out two in five innings, plus one batter.

When asked to describe his outing, the soft-spoken Snell allowed: "Interesting. Need to be in the zone a little more."

Snell continues to be the weak link for a staff that has been on a roll of late. Entering Monday's series opener, Rays starters had worked into the seventh inning in four consecutive games, and each of them were quality starts.

Snell threw 18 pitches in the first and 14 in the second before he needed 34 pitches to get through the third, an inning that saw the Royals score three runs.

"I was in the zone [in third]," Snell said. "They were hitting the ball. They just put hits together. That's all that happened. I need to not let that happen and battle a little better. It's definitely something to learn from."

Royals first baseman Eric Hosmer said they "got some good pitches in the zone and we didn't miss them, and that's the biggest thing off a guy like him."

"If he happens to leave one in the zone, you can't miss it because he's featuring some good stuff out there," Hosmer said. "You can't afford to miss pitches on him."

Cash on the 7-3 loss to Royals

Rays manager Kevin Cash said, "I'm not sure I have the answer, or any of us have the answer for how to fix Snell."

"We know what needs to take place," Cash said. "... We've got a lot of people trying to help him right now. It's not for lack of effort on the coaching staff, his teammates or himself. Everybody's trying to help him get in the right direction and find a pretty good rhythm and a groove. He just hasn't found it."

Based on what Cash said, Snell has been listening to a lot of voices. Snell maintained any suggestions, or voices he has been hearing have not made things confusing for him.

"No, not at all," Snell said. "Just keep competing, keep challenging myself. ... I'm going to have to look at the video, see what happened, when to adjust, what to do. I'm going to keep competing and keep getting better. I'm definitely looking forward to 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.