UPDATE, 6:18: Snell ended up with 12 strikeouts working six innings.
DEVELOPING: Rays LHP Blake Snell said he was excited for the chance to pitch for the first in his Seattle in front of family and friends, and to pitch against his childhood idol, Mariners ace RHP Felix Hernandez.
And it showed.
Snell struck out the first seven Seattle batters Sunday, tying the American League record for strikeouts to start a game. Chicago’s Joe Cowley did so on May 28, 1986, and then Chicago’s Carlos Rodon matched it on Sept. 30, 2016.
Snell needed one more strikeout to match the modern-day major-league record of eight, but former Rays OF Denard Span foiled that by grounding out to second at the end of a tough 10-pitch at-bat.
The overall record is shared by Jim Deshaies, who struck out eight at the start of a Sept. 23, 1986, game for Houston, and Jacob DeGrom, who did it on Sept. 15, 2014 for the Mets.
Snell broke the Rays record for Ks at the start of game, which was five by Scott Kazmir on Aug. 25, 2007. And he tied the Rays record for consecutive Ks at any point in a game, shared by Andy Sonnanstine (June 10, 2007) and Chris Archer (Sept. 11, 2015).
He didn’t allow a hit until Dee Gordon opened the fourth beating out an infield single.
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