Blake Snell

Snell strikes out 10 in dominant minor league rehab start

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SACRAMENTO – Reigning NL Cy Young award winner Blake Snell had 10 strikeouts in five strong no-hit innings for Triple-A Sacramento on Friday night in what likely is to be his final rehab start before rejoining the San Francisco Giants next week.

Snell threw 60 pitches, 41 for strikes, with one walk and a hit batter. The 31-year-old lefty had a string of five consecutive strikeouts early in the game while mostly dominating an overwhelmed Oklahoma City team that is the minor league affiliate of the Los Angeles Dodgers.

Pitching in front of a crowd estimated around 10,000 at Sutter Health Park, Snell came out throwing well and efficiently. He stayed in the mid-90s with his four-seamer while keeping Oklahoma City’s offense baffled with a steady mix of sinkers and change-ups.

One of only seven pitchers to win the Cy Young Award in both the National League and American League, Snell was sharp during his entire time on the mound. He cruised through his evening, throwing 15 pitches or fewer in every inning he worked. Snell needed only nine pitches to retire the side in order in the fourth.

Snell got into an early jam when he hit Oklahoma City’s No. 2 batter with a pitch in the first inning before inducing an inning-ending double play by the following batter.

About the only real hiccup came in the third when Snell appeared to lose his grip on a pitch and floated the ball well over the batter, catcher and home plate umpire. On the very next pitch, Snell got Chris Okey to whiff on an 82 mph curve.

It’s the second straight strong rehab start for Snell, who has been on the injured list with a groin injury since April 23. On Sunday, Snell threw 46 pitches and had seven strikeouts in four innings – including an immaculate inning (nine pitches, three strikeouts) for Single-A San Jose.

Snell, who signed a two-year, $62 million contract with the Giants in mid March to join ace Logan Webb as a 1-2 pitching punch, likely will rejoin the major league club next week still searching for his first victory with San Francisco. The veteran lefty was 0-3 with an 11.57 ERA before injuring his groing during a bullpen session.

The Giants assuredly will welcome Snell back with open arms. They’ve won once in eight games when Snell’s turn in the rotation has come up, the lone win coming last week.

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