Rays hit 4 home runs in routing Giants, former ace Blake Snell

ST. PETERSBURG — Yandy Diaz admitted he felt pressure to get a struggling Rays offense going after it was held to four runs over the first two games of the series against the Giants. Sunday, however, the rest of the lineup showed it can be dangerous even without Diaz and Randy Arozarena carrying the heavy loads.

Catcher Rene Pinto hit two of the Rays’ four home runs, including one of two off former Tampa Bay ace Blake Snell, in a 9-4 win over San Francisco before an announced 19,470 at Tropicana Field. A day after losing to the Giants by nine runs, the Rays (9-7) rebounded with their highest scoring output in a game this season.

After hitting just three home runs over their previous nine games, Tampa Bay’s lineup broke out with four in a game for the first time since July 31, 2023 at Yankee Stadium. It was just the third time in Rays history they allowed four or more homers in a game (five in Saturday’s 11-2 loss) and then hit four or more the next game.

They did so against the reigning National League Cy Young winner, who all but shut them down in his only previous start against his former team last season.

Snell on Sunday made his first start as an opponent at the Trop, where he started 50 games for the Rays before being traded to the Padres in December 2020. More telling, the left-hander was making just his second start of the season after signing with the Giants as a free agent late in spring training.

“I’m glad that we got Blake in Start 2; we know how talented he is,” Rays manager Kevin Cash said. “Look, it was good for us. He’s a really talented pitcher, one of our game’s best. And the command might not have been there, but the stuff certainly looked about the same. He was throwing hard, had a good change-up, good separation. So, we’re fortunate to get him (Sunday).”

The Rays’ lineup took advantage, as Snell yielded a career high-tying seven runs on six hits and two walks over four innings. He struck out four batters.

Rays rightfielder Amed Rosario, who entered the game 0-for-11 against Snell, hit his first home run of the season in the first inning. The 384-foot, two-run shot cleared the leftfield fence to give the Rays a 3-1 lead.

“I would say the biggest part was me being patient,” Rosario said through team interpreter Manny Navarro. “That’s all I was trying to think about, especially in the beginning in the past. I don’t think I was being patient. So, I think that was the key for (Sunday).”

After Snell walked Curtis Mead and Niko Goodrum to open the fourth, Pinto blasted a three-run home run to extend the Rays’ lead to 7-1. The 433-foot blast off the batter’s eye in centerfield was the longest of his career.

Pinto again went deep in the sixth, his 380-foot, opposite-field shot off right-hander Kai-Wei Teng making it 8-2. It was Pinto’s first career multi-home run game and the first for a Ray since Jose Siri on Aug. 9, 2023.

“An awesome day for (Pinto),” Cash said. “He’s been grinding, but it’s nice to see him smile.”

Pinto said he had multi-home run games in the minor leagues, but he believes Sunday was the first time he has ever hit one off a left-hander and another off a right-hander in the same game. “It’s exciting,” he said.

Isaac Paredes put the Rays ahead 9-3 in the seventh with a blast to left off Teng, his team-leading fifth homer of the season.

Sunday was the Rays’ first multi-home run game since they had two on April 1 against Texas. It snapped a 10-game streak with one or fewer, their longest such streak since September-October 2022.

While neither Diaz nor Arozarena homered, they did show signs of turning a corner at the plate.

Diaz, who had just three extra-base hits in the first 15 games, got things started with a leadoff double in the first, his first extra-base hit in eight games. Two batters later, he scored the Rays’ first run on Arozarena’s sharp line drive over the head of shortstop Tyler Fitzgerald. It snapped an eight-game RBI drought for Arozarena, tied for the second-longest stretch of his career.

While it’s a small sample size, Arozarena also has not hit a home run in his past 42 at-bats, spanning 11 games. His last homer was on March 31.

“I’ve been feeling good since the beginning of the year; I just don’t think the results are coming the way I want,” Arozarena said through Navarro. “But that’s something I don’t need to be worried about right now.”

Especially not when others are picking up the slack.

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