Being David doesn’t preclude you from experiencing the same turbulence as Goliath.
Remember in last week’s American League Division Series, when J.A. Happ made his unhappiness over his usage clear? On Friday night, the Rays’ Blake Snell made Happ look like Boutros-Boutros Ghali, so blatant was the younger lefty’s disappointment.
The Rays lost ALCS Game 6 to the Astros, 7-4 at Petco Park in San Diego, and their third straight defeat tied this competition at three games apiece. That set up a loser-goes-home Game 7 on Saturday night at Petco, with former Astros teammates Charlie Morton and Lance McCullers facing off. The game turned in the fifth inning when, as the Rays held a slim, 1-0 lead, Tampa Bay manager Kevin Cash lifted Snell with two men on and no outs for hard-throwing reliever Diego Castillo, who imploded to the tune of a four-run inning.
“Disappointed, for sure,” Snell said. “I felt really good. I felt locked in. I felt like I had a good game plan against that lineup. It’s just frustrating. I wanted to go deep into that ballgame and I was very confident with everything that I had going. Even with the walk and the ground ball, I still felt very, very, very, very confident that I was going to get through that lineup.”
Yes, four “verys” at the end there, believed to be an ALCS record. The walk was a leadoff free pass to Yuli Gurriel, Snell’s fourth walk of the game. The ground ball was a base hit by Aledmys Diaz, his shot eluding the reach of slick-fielding shortstop Willy Adames. At that point, Snell had thrown 82 pitches. Cash summoned Castillo, who won last week’s thrilling AL Division Series Game 5 over the Yankees. After ninth hitter Martin Maldonado bunted his teammates over to second and third, the next four batters reached base safely: George Springer single, Jose Altuve double, Michael Brantley walk and Carlos Correa single. Snell, who looked miserable upon departing, wore the same expression in the dugout.
“We trusted that Diego could come in there and do what he’s done all season long,” Cash said. “They got the better of us. It’s pretty gut-wrenching, but that’s the way it goes with those decisions.”
“I was confused, for sure, but that’s what he thought the best call and decision was,” said Snell, who added later that “Cash is usually always right.” The southpaw continued: “But for me, it’s very confusing, frustrating. I want to be out there. I want to be the guy that takes the team deep into that ballgame. It’s just very frustrating.”
Whether that frustration and curiosity looms over this franchise will be determined by Saturday night’s result.
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