ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — Kevin Kiermaier and Adeiny Hechavarria provided a rare display of power and that would be all left-hander Blake Snell needed to snap the Tampa Bay Rays‘ four-game losing streak.
Snell threw seven scoreless innings while Kiermaier and Hechavarria hit home runs to lift the Rays to a 3-0 win over the Seattle Mariners on Sunday at Tropicana Field.
After losing his first 14 starts in the majors, Snell (2-6) has won two consecutive starts and had his best outing of the season Sunday.
“Yeah, I wish it would have come together a lot sooner, but I feel really good about where I’m at,” Snell said. “I just have to keep working and getting better.”
Snell gave up two hits and struck out eight in seven innings. He threw 101 pitches, with 59 for strikes.
“I know he’s made a couple of mechanical adjustments and his velocity is even up,” Rays manager Kevin Cash said. “The biggest adjustment Blake has made is his intent with the fastball and driving the fastball in the zone.”
The Rays (61-65), who are 14-22 since the All-Star break, got a boost of offense immediately when Kiermaier sent a 2-0 pitch from Mariners starter Yovani Gallardo over the 404-foot wall in center field to give the Rays a 1-0 lead.
“You always want to start the game of with a bang anyway you can,” Kiermaier said. “I was just trying to be ready from the first pitch. … I get to 2-0 and I told myself here comes the heater. I got a good one to hit, and I was on time and put the barrel on it.”
Gallardo (5-9) did his best to keep the Mariners within one run until the bottom of the seventh. He hit Rays catcher Jesus Sucre with a pitch and struck out Brad Miller before Hechavarria ripped a 3-1 pitch over the wall in right field to make the score 3-0.
“I recently made a quick adjustment to my hands,” Hechavarria said. “I had them a little bit lower, but I’ve raised them a little higher. Ever since them I’ve felt a little more comfortable there.”
Gallardo pitched 6 1/3 innings and gave up five hits and three runs. He struck out six and walked three on 106 pitches, with 58 for strikes.
“I was able to command the fastball,” Gallardo said. “I think I was able to command it on both sides of the plate. I was able to change speeds and when I got in trouble I got ground balls.”
The home runs, however, were mistakes he couldn’t escape.
“I’m mean it’s not like they are bad pitches,” Gallardo said.” Obviously the one (to Kiermaier), I fell behind and I tried to go away and he just stayed with it and went down the middle. The other one, a fastball away and he drives it to right-center. Not much I can do about that.”
Seattle (63-62) couldn’t generate much offense against Snell, who retired 15 of 16 batters at one point. The Mariners were able to get runners on first and second with two outs in the top of the seventh, but Taylor Motter grounded into a fielder’s choice to end the threat.
“We’ve got to give a lot of credit to Blake Snell,” Mariners manager Scott Servais said. “He has really good stuff and he had it going on today. Key for us, we won the series. We continue to roll, hopefully we will get over to Atlanta and do it again over there.”
The Mariners were able to get a one-out hit off Rays closer Alex Colome when Yonder Alonso hit a liner to left field, but Corey Dickerson made a nice defensive play to keep it to a single.
NOTES: The leadoff home run was the first of CF Kevin Kiermaier’s career. … The Rays claimed OF Cesar Puello off waivers from the Angels and placed RHP Jake Faria on the 10-day disabled list with a left abdominal strain. … Mariners 3B Kyle Seager (stomach virus) is still not 100 percent, according to manager Scott Servais. Seager was given the game off after missing two games last week. … RHP David Phelps (right elbow impingement) will pitch in a simulated game in Atlanta before a decision about when to bring him off the disabled list is made. … Mariners 2B Robinson Cano fouled a pitch off a foot in the ninth inning and a trainer came out to take a look, but Cano finished the at-bat.