Arizona Diamondbacks at Tampa Bay Rays
When and Where: Monday, May 6, Tropicana Field, St. Petersburg, Fla., 7:10 p.m. EDT.
Blake Snell looks to avoid losing three consecutive starts for the first time in nearly two years Monday night when the reigning AL Cy Young Award winner leads the Tampa Bay Rays into the opener of a three-game series versus the Arizona Diamondbacks.
Kelly looks to continue strong stretch for D-Backs
Arizona rookie Merrill Kelly (3-2, 3.60 ERA) gets the ball looking to win a third consecutive start in this series opener.
— azcentral sports (@azcsports) May 1, 2019
The right-hander is also looking for back-to-back interleague wins after stifling the New York Yankees on Wednesday, limiting them to one run in 5 1-3 innings of a 3-2 victory. Kelly worked out of a bases-loaded jam in the fifth and improved to 3-0 when backed with any type of run support.
“Fastball command was some of the best I’ve had, which I was happy with, and I was able to throw the curve ball for strikes,” Kelly told The Associated Press.
Kelly’s best start of the year also came in interleague play — holding the Boston Red Sox to one run and four hits over eight innings of a tough-luck 1-0 defeat April 7. This will be his first appearance versus Tampa Bay.
Snell looking for answers as Rays open week-long homestand
After going 21-5 last year en route to the Cy Young, Snell (2-3, 4.31) has yet to find a groove for the Rays (21-12), who are still atop the American League East thanks to their fast start.
Snell has not lost three consecutive starts since May 8-June 28, 2017, a stretch interrupted by a demotion to the minors. The left-hander will not endure such a fate this time around but is looking to bounce back after a rough outing at Kansas City on Wednesday when he was drilled for season highs of seven runs and six hits in three-plus innings of a 7-2 defeat.
— Ken Filler, @krfiller (@krfiller64) May 4, 2019
“It was uncharacteristic. He just could never get it right for whatever reason,’’ Rays manager Kevin Cash said told the Tampa Bay Tribune. “I think he’ll be fine. … The velo is there, the fastball is there. The command was not there (Wednesday). The other day I can’t say command wasn’t there. It was just he kind of put himself in a bind against them the first outing. This outing he just didn’t have the command of his pitches.’’
Snell’s best start of 2019 also came in an interleague outing, showing his Cy Young form against Colorado on April 2 when he struck out 13 in seven innings of a 2-0 victory. The southpaw carries a 24 2-3 inning shutout streak in interleague play into this contest and is 6-2 with a 1.60 ERA in 11 starts versus the National League.
Snell, who has 86 strikeouts in 67 2-3 innings while holding opposing hitters to a .170 batting average versus the senior circuit, has never faced the Diamondbacks. Adam Jones, though, is 3 for 7 with a solo homer in their matchups, while Wilmer Flores is 3 for 3 with a double.
The Diamondbacks are:
- 8-19 in their last 27 interleague road games.
- 22-50 in their last 72 interleague games vs. above-.500 teams.
- 2-5 in their last seven Monday games.
The Rays are:
- 11-1 in their last 12 home games vs. teams with an above-.600 road record.
- 4-0 in their last four during game 1 of a series.
- 5-1 in their last six home games following a road trip of seven or more days.