Tampa Bay Rays' Blake Snell 'disappointed, upset' on early hook in Game 6

ARLINGTON, Texas -- Tampa Bay Rays manager Kevin Cash said he regretted the outcome more than the decision to pull starter Blake Snell while the left-hander was still at the top of his game after 5⅓ scoreless innings in Game 6 of the World Series on Tuesday.

"I regret the decision because it didn't work out," Cash said after the Los Angeles Dodgers wrapped up their seventh World Series title with a 3-1 win. "But you know, I feel like the thought process was right. ... If we had to do it over again, I would have the utmost confidence in Nick Anderson to get through that inning."

With the Rays leading 1-0, Snell was throwing arguably his best game of the season. He had struck out nine Dodgers hitters while giving up two hits.

To the dismay of many, Snell's second hit allowed -- to No. 9 hitter Austin Barnes, with one out in the sixth -- brought Cash to the mound. Cash opted for Anderson, who promptly gave up a double, a game-tying wild pitch and an RBI groundout, putting the Rays behind in the game for the first time, 2-1.

"I am definitely disappointed and upset," Snell said. "I just want the ball. I felt good. I did everything I could to prove my case to stay out there, and then for us to lose, it sucks. I want to win, and I want to win the World Series, and for us to lose, it just sucks.

"I am not going to question him. He's a helluva manager, so I am not going to question him. And I can only look forward to what I am going to accomplish this offseason. But we came up short, and the only thing I can focus on is what I can be better at next year."

Cash said the decision to pull Snell was made because leadoff hitter Mookie Betts was coming up again, and Cash wanted to avoid having Snell go through the lineup a third time. The next three hitters Snell was due to face -- Betts, Corey Seager and Justin Turner -- were 0-for-6 with six strikeouts against him Tuesday.

"The only motive was that the lineup the Dodgers feature is as potent as any in the league," Cash said. "Personally, I felt Blake had done his job and then some. Mookie coming around the third time through ... I value that.

"I totally respect and understand the questions that come with it. Blake gave us every opportunity to win. He was outstanding. They're not easy decisions. ... Didn't want Mookie or Seager seeing Blake a third time. There was no set plan. As much as people think, there's no set plan."

Dodgers manager Dave Roberts acknowledged that he was glad Snell was pulled, adding that Betts even looked over at him and smiled.

"I was pretty happy because he was dominating us, and we just weren't seeing him," Roberts said. "We were all kind of excited that Snell was out of the game."

Betts said Snell's removal from the game brought about a "sigh of relief" from the team, and Seager said it "uplifted" the offense.

"He was tough all night," Seager said. "You tip your cap to him. He threw a helluva ballgame. He had us off balance, he made pitches, we grinded, we battled, and we didn't really have an answer for him. And once he came out, it uplifted us a little bit, for sure. We started feeling a little momentum, we scratched a few runs, and we ended up winning."

Cash was asked if there was anything Snell could have done to stay in the game.

"I don't know if I have the best answer right now," Cash said. "He did above and beyond what any of us could have asked for. To limit that lineup the way he did was outstanding and gave us every opportunity to win. Good question. Tough question. I don't know if I have the best answer."

Snell has gone a major-league-longest 21 straight starts without completing six innings, including in every outing this season.

He is just the second starting pitcher in the past 20 postseasons to be pulled from a game in which he had at least nine strikeouts before reaching 75 pitches. CC Sabathia was pulled from Game 5 of the 2017 American League Division Series at 69 pitches in the fifth inning, but unlike Snell, Sabathia had allowed consecutive run-scoring hits.

Snell was asked the same question as Cash: Did he think there was anything more he could have done to stay in the game?

"No shot," he said. "That was one of my better games I've pitched in a long time, honestly. The way I was controlling the zone and adjusting through seeing them, I felt very comfortable out there. The way I scouted them and myself with everything, I knew what they were looking for and I knew when they were going to adjust their game plan. When it came to understanding that team and what I needed to do, I was really locked in. So I did everything I could do to be the best out there today."

Cash has managed the Rays' pitching staff in the same manner all season, which many recognize is one reason the team made it to the World Series, and he forecast the move the day before.

"We're going to get aggressive tomorrow," Cash said Monday. "If we can get a lead and limit them, we have some of the big guys in the back end of the bullpen that are ready to go. That's kind of our M.O. Just continuing to give different looks, consistently being inconsistent with the looks that we're giving opposing lineups and, more than anything with this Dodgers lineup, just not allowing them to see repeated at-bats."

That was said 24 hours before Snell took the mound and before he struck out Betts, Seager and Turner two times each. Snell was pulled before getting the chance to face them again.

"You do it a little differently in the postseason," Cash said Monday. "You're a little more aggressive. I give our starters a ton of credit. They're really good. That's a little bit of our strategy: To get a lead, get aggressive and limit whatever offense is out there."