Blake Snell’s debut ends with 8-1 loss to Nationals – NBC Sports Bay Area and California

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SAN FRANCISCO – When they finally agreed to a two-year contract with Blake Snell, the Giants hoped they could get the reigning Cy Young Award winner up to speed in time to face the rival Los Angeles Dodgers on the road in the first . Travel Snell was not quite ready, and when he was lined up for the season opener against the Washington Nationals, it seemed as if his landing would be too soft.

However, nothing about this matchup has been easy the past two years, and Snell’s debut in orange and black fits perfectly with the Giants’ dreadful 1-5 record against a 91-loss Washington team last year .

As they had the previous year, the Nationals ran long counts, fouled on difficult pitches and always gained extra bases. They spoiled Snell’s first night at Oracle Park, winning 8–1 and putting such a blow to the expectations of the rowdy crowd that the fans resorted to a wave in the top of the eighth.

It was a brutal night overall for a team that is now 4-7. For Snell, there were some positives, but also a lot of flaws.

Here’s how their first night went…


Snell’s first pitch as a Giant was a 95-mph fastball and he sat there the rest of the outing, even reaching 97 mph with one pitch. The arm strength is certainly present after a long layoff, and at times, Snell flashed a full four-pitch mix, perhaps the best in the game.

Despite only throwing three innings, he received multiple swinging strikes on all four of his pitches. He threw a 96-mph fastball twice, getting past the free-swinging Joey Gallo for strikeouts, and got two more on his curveball. After falling behind 3-0 to Jacob Young, the game’s leadoff batter, Snell battled back a full count and then threw a poor changeup right down the zone for his first strikeout.

Snell faced 14 batters and only two hit a ball out of the infield. The hardest of Snell’s three singles was hit at only 82 mph.


The Nationals weren’t keeping up with Snell, but they didn’t really need to. He led the league in walks last year and is more comfortable with traffic around him than any player in the big leagues, but even by that standard, the first couple innings were a little unreal.

Snell went on a three-ball count on each of the first seven hitters, and three different Nationals players went up 3–0. Two of those batters struck out and one was hit by a grounder, which is basically how Snell works.

Two walks cost Snell dearly, both coming to score. But the three-ball count had a big impact. Snell threw 26 pitches to just four batters in the first inning and was down to 59 pitches after the second inning, with lefty Eric Miller already practicing. His third place finish was clean, but he got 72 pitches, which is about the same as his last simulated game. The high pitch count after the top of the third ended Snell’s night.


Snell struck out the first batter of the second, but it was a tight field all night, and he lost touch in the bottom of the lineup. After back-to-back walks, Trey Lipscomb hit a single to right to tie the game. From there, it got muddy.

Lipscomb stole second base without a throw. Luis Garcia, the ninth hitter, followed with a bouncer to first and he beat Snell to the bag as Wilmer Flores threw from his back.

Garcia immediately took off for second and Snell picked him off, but the Giants fumbled the rundown. When Lipscomb broke the plate, the Giants infielders were out of position. Snell reached first base and made a strong throw home, but Patrick Bailey could not get the tag in time as a run scored on third and Garcia advanced safely to second.

It was not ideal that Snell made his spring debut so late, and that inning perhaps showed some of his shortcomings as a fielder. It was a tough night for Bailey too, who dropped a few balls early on.

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