The Indians' Jose Ramirez watches his home run off Rays starting pitcher Blake Snell during the seventh inning Wednesday, Sept. 12, 2018, in St. Petersburg, Fla. The home run was the Indians' only hit in a 3-1 loss.
ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — Blake Snell is locked in on the Tampa Bay Rays’ long-shot postseason hopes, not thinking about winning the AL Cy Young Award.
The Indians were just locked in on getting a hit against the left-hander Wednesday afternoon.
They got one, but they couldn’t get to Snell.
Snell took a no-hit bid into the seventh inning and got his major league-leading 19th win, leading the Rays to a 3-1 win.
“He’s got the whole package,” Indians manager Terry Francona said. “He’s got velocity, breaking ball, change-up, and seeing how much he’s improved from one year to the next, that’s pretty special stuff.”
Snell (19-5) lost his bid when Jose Ramirez led off the seventh with his 38th homer. Snell won his team-record seventh straight start, striking out nine and walking two in seven innings. He has allowed two earned runs or fewer in 16 consecutive home starts.
Chaz Roe and Jose Alvarado each got three outs, completing a one-hitter. Alvarado got his eighth save in 11 chances.
“I know that we’re winning and that’s the most important thing,” Snell said. “That’s what I’m focused on, that’s what we’re focused on. All the individual stuff I’ll look at later.”
Tampa Bay closed within eight games of Oakland for the second AL wild card with 17 games left. The Athletics were scheduled to play at Baltimore on Wednesday night, then open a three-game series at Tampa Bay on Friday night.
Cleveland’s magic number to clinch a third consecutive AL Central title remained at three.
Snell’s ERA dropped to 2.03, second in the AL behind Boston’s Chris Sale at 1.96. Snell’s 1.24 ERA at home is best in the majors.
Ji-Man Choi hit a two-run homer in the first off Carlos Carrasco, then took a well-inside pitch from Carrasco in the sixth and briefly stared at the mound. Choi hit a winning homer off Brad Hand in the ninth inning Monday night.
“Every at-bat I can hit a home run you feel great, especially today helping to contribute to a win for Snell,” Choi said through a translator.
Cleveland’s Edwin Encarnacion stared and shook his head after a high and inside pitch from Snell in the fourth.
“It was nothing,” Encarnacion said. “No hard feelings. He tried to go inside. No problem.”
Carrasco (16-9) gave up three runs and six hits in seven innings.
Josh Donaldson, acquired by Cleveland from Toronto on Aug. 31, hit into a double play as a pinch hitter in the eighth. He went 0-for-4 Tuesday in his Cleveland debut, his first big league game since May 28.
Cleveland center fielder Jason Kipnis, left fielder Michael Brantley, catcher Yan Gomes and first baseman Yonder Alonso were also rested.
Tommy Pham extended his career-best hitting streak to 16 games with a two-out infield single in the first and scored on Choi’s drive to center field.
INDIANS: Donaldson is scheduled to start at third base Friday.
RAYS: Center fielder Kevin Kiermaier didn’t provide details for what the team called a “general illness” that kept him out the lineup the previous two games. “Time to rest really helped,” said Kiermaier, who had a fourth-inning sacrifice fly and tripled during the sixth.
Ramirez’s homer was his first since Aug. 17, ending an 88 at-bat drought.
** Tampa Bay outfielder Mallex Smith stole two bases and has 33 overall.
** The game was played in 2 hours, 20 minutes.
INDIANS: Right-hander Mike Tomlin (1-5) is to face Detroit left-hander Matthew Boyd (9-12) on Friday night in Cleveland.
RAYS: Right-hander Diego Castillo (3-2) will start a bullpen game for Tampa Bay on Friday night against Oakland right-hander Edwin Jackson (5-3). The Rays took three of four from the A’s in Oakland from May 28-31.