Rays rookie ties career high with nine strikeouts vs. Brewers
By Connor Mount
ST. PETERSBURG -- After Jacob Faria produced a near unwavering stream of quality starts in his first nine big league performances, a rare misfire last week in New York might have looked like a splash of reality.
Instead, the precocious rookie rebounded and returned to what's become an impressive norm on Friday, striking out nine over six innings of one-run ball in a 2-0 Rays loss to the Brewers.
In his last start versus the Yankees, Faria fell behind constantly, throwing a first-pitch strike to just four of 20 batters. As a result, the right-hander lasted a career-low four innings that were packed with a career-high five walks, with only 51.1 percent of pitches resulting in strikes.
Faria was much steadier Friday, firing 13 of his 23 first pitches for strikes and 62.5 percent overall. Not coincidentally, he cut his walks to two, along with limiting Milwaukee to four hits.
"A lot better this game than last one, for sure," Faria said, emphasizing those final two words. "Still want to get better getting ahead of hitters. [Working from behind in the count] is not easy, and it wastes a lot of pitches."
On a night where the Rays loaded the bases twice in the first two innings against Brewers rookie Brandon Woodruff, Faria also encountered some early-evening traffic, with both his walks coming in the opening frame.
"I don't think [Faria] was very sharp early on, but he battled," Rays manager Kevin Cash said. "He fell behind a bunch of hitters, but it was nice to see him come back, and [he] did everything he could to keep it right there close."
Despite the high pitch count early on, Faria eventually found a groove and struck out nine batters, tying a career high. He finished with his sixth start of six or more innings with one run or fewer allowed. That's tied for best on the team this year with Alex Cobb, who has started twice as many games as Faria.
Still, "ultimately, it doesn't really matter" how he did Friday, according to Faria, because the Rays lost. The only number of his that he'll dwell on measures how early and often he's tossing strikes.
"That's something I want to get a lot better at, continue to get better at," Faria said. "But the overall strike throwing I was a lot happier with than a few recent outings."
Connor Mount is a reporter for MLB.com based in St. Petersburg. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.