Mostly, though, Snell just looked like an ace who had a lot more than 73 pitches to offer. He said he had thoroughly scouted the Dodgers and himself, and knew what they were looking for and how to counter.
“I get it, it’s the third time through the lineup, but I think I’m going to make the adjustments I need to make as I see them a third time,” Snell said. “I don’t know — I just believe in me. I believe in myself, I believe in what I was doing.”
So did Kevin Kiermaier, the longest-tenured member of the Rays, who had been enjoying the view from a lonely center field. Besides the nine strikeouts, Snell induced five groundouts, an infield pop-up and a fly out to right.
“I don’t really care what the numbers say,” Kiermaier said, “third time through the order or whatever, there weren’t many guys making contact in general, and no hard contact whatsoever. We all wanted to see him stay in there.”
Last October, facing elimination in Game 6 of the World Series, the Washington Nationals let Stephen Strasburg work into the ninth inning in Houston. Strasburg’s masterly performance forced a Game 7, which the Nationals won when the Astros’ manager, A.J. Hinch, pulled Zack Greinke too soon.
So it is again, another World Series that ends with a manager trusting matchups over pedigree, afraid to let an ace be an ace. Snell will never get this game back, and may always wonder what could have been.
“The hardest thing for me is I was rolling, I was in a groove,” he said. “I just really felt dominant, like I had them guessing. It’s just tough for me, man. It’s going to be tough for me for a while to accept that, accept losing the World Series.”