By Tucker Toole
The Tampa Bay Rays pitching staff’s blazing hot win streak came to an end at Target field Thursday night versus the Minnesota Twins.
The Rays bullpen came into Thursday’s game on a five-game win streak, but have not pitched an entire game since May of 2016, and the team has made an unorthodox trend out of this by continuously throwing new pitchers at the opposing offense, which throws off the hitters’ rhythm and gets them out of their comfort zone.
The Rays came into Thursday’s matchup looking for some star power from their starting pitcher Blake Snell. Snell, who is regarded as one of the top pitchers in the league, did not receive an All-Star selection, which many people around the league were not expecting.
Coming into tonight’s game, Snell ranked third in the league and second in the AL in ERA behind Jacob deGrom and Justin Verlander. Snell has allowed two runs or fewer in 16 starts, which is ahead of four pitchers who were named to this year’s All-star team, including Aaron Nola, Chris Sale, Max Scherzer and Justin Verlander. His 12 wins are tied for second most in franchise history before the All-star break with David Price.
In Thursday night’s game, Snell’s time on the mound was short-lived as he came out of the game shortly after the third inning. After allowing three runs, five hits, and striking out two batters, Snell’s game was finished. Despite his performance, Snell is still regarded as one of the best pitchers in the AL, if not the league, and is continuing to lead his pitching staff, which has been playing very well over the last few weeks.
The Rays have continued their unorthodox pitching style in a very systematic manner. Something the Rays do that not many teams do at all is sometimes start one of their relievers. The Rays project which reliever will pitch the best against whoever are the opposing teams top three or four hitters. Following the reliever, they will insert a multi-inning starter to come in and pitch around 4-5 innings. After the next pitcher, the lineup is made up of spontaneous bullpen changes.
Though the Twins held the Rays off for a final score of 5-1, the Rays might have benefited from starting the game with their unorthodox pitching style. The Rays tried to make a run in the top of the ninth inning by adding to the teams hit total, but it wasn’t enough to come out with the win.