Rays’ 11-game winning streak ends vs. Royals despite Rich Hill’s 13-strikeout performance


The Tampa Bay Rays entered Tuesday’s contest against the Kansas City Royals riding an 11-game winning streak that was both the majors’ longest active streak and the second-longest of the season. If the Oakland Athletics were concerned that these Rays might eclipse the 13-game winning stretch they reeled off in April, then Tuesday night brought them some peace: The Royals did what no one else has been able to do lately, knocking off the Rays by a 2-1 final.

Even in defeat, the Rays received a phenomenal effort from lefty starter Rich Hill. Hill struck out 13 Royals over eight innings, allowing two runs on six hits and no walks. A Carlos Santana home run was responsible for the first of those runs, and for erasing an early 1-0 Rays lead. Salvador Pérez later delivered an RBI single to put the Royals ahead for good.

According to Statcast, Hill generated 18 whiffs on 34 swings against his fastball — that despite the pitch maxing out at 91.1 mph. His signature curveball coerced six empty swings on 16 tries. Overall, he recorded a whiff on nearly half (27) the 55 swings taken against his pitches.

Hill, 41, entered Tuesday having notched a 3.89 ERA (99 ERA+) and a 2.65 strikeout-to-walk ratio in his first nine starts. He has been especially good since the calendar turned to May, as he allowed just one run in his first 21⅔ innings. 

The Royals, for their part, received a solid effort from Brad Keller. He struck out seven batters in seven innings, offsetting his four hits and four walks. It was the first time this season Keller, who entered the evening with a 6.52 ERA, had worked beyond the sixth inning.

The 11-game winning streak was the second longest in Rays franchise history. Back in June 2004, the then-Devil Rays won 12 games in a row. Prior to this winning streak, that had been the only double-digit streak in franchise history. The best the Joe Maddon-era Rays could muster was nine games in July 2014.

The Rays will play two more games against the Royals before hosting the Philadelphia Phillies for two games this weekend. 

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