The Tampa Bay Rays had their backs against the wall when they took the field for Game 6 of the 2020 World Series vs. the Los Angeles Dodgers. They were down 3-2 and knew that there simply wasn't room for error.
That's why Kevin Cash put the ball in Blake Snell's hands. The southpaw dominated the Dodgers' offense in an elegant fashion in Game 2 and looked like the perfect man to tie the series up and force Game 7.
As expected, Snell was dealing since the very start of the game. Fast-forward to the top of the sixth inning, and the Rays were holding on to a 1-0 lead behind Snell's 9 Ks, and just one hit. Then, Kevin Cash happened.
After one hit, Cash yanked Snell out of the game after 5.1 IP and just 73 pitches. He didn't want the Dodgers' lineup to see him for the third time, even though he had struck out the top of the order twice and had shown no signs of fatigue whatsoever.
The rest, as you know by now, is history. Mookie Betts doubled, Nick Anderson threw a wild pitch, allowed a hit, and all of a sudden the Dodgers led 2-1. Snell, as expected, was clearly upset about what happened, although he didn't question Cash's call to take him out.
Blake Snell Reacts To Kevin Cash's Decision
"I am definitely disappointed and upset. I just want the ball. I felt good. I did everything I could to prove my case to stay out there, and then for us to lose, it sucks. I want to win, and I want to win the World Series, and for us to lose, it just sucks," Snell said.
“I am not going to question him. He’s a helluva manager, so I am not going to question him. And I can only look forward to what I am going to accomplish this offseason. But we came up short, and the only thing I can focus on is what I can be better at next year," he concluded.
It's hard to judge Cash for doing exactly what took his team to the World Series. He always dealt with his pitchers that way when he was in the lead so there was no reason to think that he'd choose a different path this time.
Then again, baseball goes way beyond analytics. Snell had the Dodgers' tied-up, and they struggled vs. lefties for most of the season. Had Snell stayed on the mound, chances are that we would be talking about Game 7 right now. Instead, they continue to be one of the few teams that have never won a World Series.