Takeaways from Rays’ brisk dismissal of Rockies behind Snell

Apr 2, 2019; St. Petersburg, FL, USA; Tampa Bay Rays starting pitcher Blake Snell (4) reacts at the end of the second inning against the Colorado Rockies at Tropicana Field. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Injury news in recent days has put the Colorado Rockies in a funk, a state they failed to escape once again Tuesday night.

Lineup struggles, a tattered bullpen and several subpar outings from the rotation have played a role in the four-game losing streak. In their latest 4-0 loss to the Tampa Bay Rays, the former played the largest role.

With another losing effort, the Rockies moved to 0-5 all-time at Tropicana Field.

Ahead are the takeaways from another squandered opportunity to right the ship.

Snell’s Cy Young was no fluke

Blake Snell hardly edged out veteran Justin Verlander by only four first-place votes in the American League Cy Young voting last year. Many pundits, due to Snell only pitching 180.2 innings, considered the accolade a fluke.

Following his latest outing, those pundits are feeling queasy.

Through the first four innings, Snell hadn’t allowed a single baserunner. Of the 12 Rockies that came to the plate, eight returned back to the bench without putting the ball in play.

Trevor Story struck for the first hit of Snell’s stint in the fifth, getting picked off shortly after, a microcosm of the Rockies’ day. 

The final line for Snell was dominant as he hurled seven innings and allowed only two hits, striking out 13, tying the career high he set in 2017.  

Since the onset of the 2018 season, the left-hander has now thrown 11 games of five-or-more innings without allowing a run. That total jumps to 23 for games with one earned run or fewer. 

In only starts against the Rockies, Snell joined elite company.

For the Rockies offense, the absence of production was par for the course in their current four-game losing streak. During that span, they’ve scored four total runs after tallying 12 in their two opening wins.

Spending habits at the plate have hurt the Rockies

This offseason, the Rockies’ front office chose to stay stagnant, their lone impact signing coming with the acquisition of Daniel Murphy. That complacency, mixed with signings that have yet to pan out have sapped the club’s offense.

Dating back to the offseason prior to the 2017 season, Ian Desmond joins Murphy as the only two key free agent acquisitions by the club.

While the results of the Murphy signing are being delayed with his injury in just the team’s second game, Desmond’s sample size is glaring.

The newly-minted centerfielder has started the year 2-for-19 through the team’s first six games. In his two-plus year Rockies’ career, he is 226-for-913 (.248).

In that same span, free agent names like Lorenzo Cain, J.D. Martinez, Nelson Cruz and A.J. Pollock all graced the open market. Of the four, both Cruz and Pollock have significantly less fruitful contracts, while Cain’s is only worth an average of $2 million more per year.

Martinez’ deal is much larger, and rightfully so after a fourth-place AL Most Valuable Player finish in just his first year with the Boston Red Sox. His signing could’ve been the blockbuster that pushed the club over the top. 

The Desmond signing was questionable from the start. Now, it’s an atrocity. The silence from Jeff Bridich and company, when tasked with improving the lineup, is equally dreadful. 

Freeland is a bulldog on the mound

Kyle Freeland’s first inning had more blemishes than a 13-year-old boy. After that, he shut the Rays down.

The final line for Freeland after allowing three runs in the first, only two earned, was 4.2 innings, three hits allowed and 10 strikeouts, tying his career high. The outing ended his streak of quality starts at 12.

Luck was not on the ace’s side as Chris Iannetta’s foot missed home plate on an easy groundball to Nolan Arenado with the bases loaded. The gaffe led to a run, followed by a two-run single from Guillermo Heredia.

In the first frame alone, Freeland threw 36 pitches. To garner his final 11 outs, he threw 63.

The outing, while ugly for the inaugural frame, once again highlighted the competitor within Freeland, a boon for his success at the hitter’s haven that is Coors Field.

Unfortunately, his offense wasn’t able to pose the same threat.

The menu for the night was all-you-can-eat K’s

The quick turn from home plate, followed by a melancholy walk back to the dugout was in high demand for both teams Tuesday night.

Between Snell and Freeland, the pair of lineups combined for 23 strikeouts in the game. That total grew to 27 when including the game’s four relievers. Of the 20 hitters that stepped into the box, 11 were victim to multiple punchouts.

The game continued a trend for the Rockies as they’ve struck out double-digit times in three games of their four-game skid.