ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (AP) — Blake Snell has felt good on the mound despite not getting a lot of wins.
After a difficult stretch, the left-hander got a good outcome Sunday.
Snell (5-7, 4.87 ERA) struck out 12 over six innings for just his second win in 10 starts and the Tampa Bay Rays beat the Texas Rangers 6-2 on Sunday.
“The way that I feel and what I’m doing I believe it’s better than last year,” Snell, the reigning AL Cy Young Award winner, said. “Consistency, swing-and-miss, strikes, less walks, weak contact, everything. The only thing that’s bad is ERA and length that I’m going in starts.”
Snell gave up three hits during an 80-pitch outing. He had an 11.94 ERA (17 1/3 innings, 23 earned runs) in five previous starts this month.
“Did a lot of things actually very similar to what he’s been doing,” Rays manager Kevin Cash said. “Just a little better at command and location to those pitches.”
Snell threw first-pitch strikes to 17 of 20 batters.
“He wasn’t really doing that before,” Rangers manager Chris Woodward said. “When he’s ahead in the count, he’s a Cy Young winner for a reason.”
Tommy Pham homered for the Rays, who won consecutive games for the first time since June 9-10. The first AL wild card leaders went 13-16 in June.
Four Tampa Bay relievers completed a four-hitter that included 17 strikeouts.
Texas got a two-run homer from Joey Gallo.
After Kevin Kiermaier had an RBI single and Willy Adames added a run-scoring single off Jesse Chavez (3-3) the fourth, Pham’s fifth-inning solo shot made it 4-2.
Chavez allowed four runs and five hits in six innings.
Kiermaier had an RBI triple in a two-run eighth.
Gallo’s two-run homer in the fourth off Snell got stuck on the “D-Ring” catwalk, which is approximately 70-feet above the right-field seats.
“I didn’t notice that it didn’t come down,” Gallo said. “But that was a pretty cool home run off a guy who’s really nasty.”
Gallo had the only Texas hit through three innings, a leadoff bunt single in the second against a shift that had four outfielders and three infielders on the first-base side of second.
He was thrown out on another bunt attempt in the seventh against Colin Poche with a runner on first and no outs, and Texas trailing 4-2.
“Obviously a lot came into play,” said Gallo, who talked with Woodward about the situation before the at-bat. “It’s a tough lefty who struck me out the day before. Obviously if I lay one down and get it a little more over to the left, we’re having a different conversation about it.”
Cash was ejected by plate umpire Bruce Dreckman in the second for arguing after Avisail Garcia took a called third strike.
“Bruce Dreckman does a tremendous job,” Cash said. “We just didn’t see eye-to-eye.”
Rays two-way player Brendan McKay could hit before the All-Star break. “If there’s an opportunity to get him in there where we feel it’s a fit with his workload we’ll do that,” manager Kevin Cash said. McKay allowed one hit in six innings Saturday to get the win in his debut against Texas and is scheduled to pitch against the New York Yankees Friday night.
Rangers: 2B Rougned Odor, hurt Friday running the bases, was scratched due to lingering left hamstring tightness but pinch-hit in the ninth. ... 3B Asdrubal Cabrera sat out with lower back tightness.
Rangers: AL ERA leader Mike Minor (8-4, 2.40) will face Los Angeles Angels LHP Jose Suarez (2-1) Monday night. Minor has gone eight-or-more innings, including a complete game Wednesday at Detroit, while allowing one run in two straight starts.
Rays: Opener Ryne Stanek (0-1) will start Monday night’s game against Baltimore, which hasn’t announced a starter.