Confined to the same hotel as the Yankees as part of the playoff bubble, Rays ace Blake Snell has managed to keep his contact with the enemy to a minimum.
Other than exchanging text messages with Aaron Judge, a close friend, Snell said Sunday he largely has avoided communication with the Yankees.
And he doesn’t want to hear about the bad blood between the two teams, which was exacerbated this season.
“I think playing them is just like playing any other team,” said Snell, who will start Game 1 of the AL Division Series on Monday. “Except they are really good, they are the Yankees, they have got a really huge fan base.
“It’s a talented team and some people look at it differently, but I just focus on what I can control and what I’m going to be ready for, and that’s their lineup. I’m more excited about that than the ‘he said, she said.’ That doesn’t really bother me.”
The lefty pitched a gem against the Blue Jays in his last start, allowing just one hit over 5²/₃ shutout innings for his first career postseason victory. Overall, he went 4-2 with a 3.24 ERA in 11 starts this season.
He last faced the Yankees on Aug. 18 in The Bronx, receiving the win after he allowed three earned runs over five innings. The Yankees have been a formidable foe: Snell is 4-6 with a 4.31 ERA lifetime in 18 starts against them, his most frequent opponent.
It’s a finally healthy Yankees lineup that clicked in a two-game sweep of the Indians in the first round.
“I don’t know if there was a [Yankees] lineup that we faced that resembles the one we are in theory going to face [Monday],” Rays manager Kevin Cash said. “When you talk about Judge, [Giancarlo] Stanton, [Gleyber] Torres, I don’t know if we saw them all together at one time. They are all really talented hitters and that goes with the guys that had solid seasons and are healthy for the most part, between [DJ] LeMahieu and [Luke] Voit.”
Snell is aware the ball carries “a good amount” at Petco Park from what he saw in the Cardinals-Padres playoff series, but added it’s not a concern.
If anything he’s more interested in whose locker he is occupying in the Padres clubhouse.
“I was actually curious about it yesterday when I was leaving,” Snell said. “Hopefully I might know by [Monday].”
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