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Rays 3, Blue Jays 6: Indefensible

MLB: Tampa Bay Rays at Toronto Blue Jays Gregory Fisher-USA TODAY Sports

For the second game of this series in Buffalo, the Rays sent Shane McClanahan to the mound. McClanahan had one previous start against the Blue Jays this season, going five shutout innings in a 3-1 win back on May 22nd. He was opposed by Ross Stripling who came into the game with 65.1 innings pitched and a 4.27 ERA. His best outing of the season came against the Rays when he went seven shutout innings behind an opener on May 24th.

The Blue Jays opened the scoring when George Springer got around on a Shane McClanahan fastball and sent it over the left field wall. It was a well-placed pitch coming in at 97 mph, but that didn’t stop the Toronto center fielder from giving the home team a 1-0 lead.

Going into this game, Manuel Margot was six for 16 with 2 home runs against Blue Jays’ starter Ross Stripling and he continued that success with a home run to lead off the fourth inning for the Rays, tying the game.

Other than the Margot home run, the Rays struggled to pose any threat against Stripling. He walked Ji-Man Choi with two outs in the top of the 6th, which prompted Toronto skipper Charlie Montoyo to bring in Adam Cimber, who used his submarine delivery to retire Randy Arozarena and end the inning. Stripling finished with a line of 5.2 IP, 1 ER, 3 BB, 5 K.

McClanahan also worked into the sixth inning, largely dominant outside of the solo home run. He recorded the first out of the inning before allowing a double to Vladimir Guerrero Jr. and a walk to George Springer. With two runners on and just one out, Kevin Cash went to slider aficionado Matt Wisler. Both of those runners scored, only one of them earned, leaving McClanahan’s final line at 5.1 IP, 3 R, 2 ER, 2 BB, 5 K.

Wisler came in and mostly did his job, getting a weak grounder from Teoscar Hernandez that resulted in an infield hit, and another from Lourdes Gurriel Jr. that gave the Blue Jays the lead after Joey Wendle’s second errant throw of the game got by Zunino at the plate, scoring Guerrero Jr. A looping single from Cavan Biggio scored two more expanding Toronto’s lead, and a two-run home run from Santiago Espinal put the cap on a brutal inning for the Rays that left them with a five-run deficit. The homer was the first of Espinal’s career.

In the eighth inning, Wander Franco singled with two outs. Ji-Man Choi’s spot in the lineup was up next, and Choi had reached base safely in all three of his plate appearances. Despite that, Kevin Cash chose to send switch-hitting infielder Taylor Walls (.222/.337/.333, 96 wRC+) to the plate to face Tim Mayza. Mayza promptly struck Walls out, retiring the side.

Things got dicey for the Blue Jays in the ninth. They brought in reliever Jordan Romano to seal the victory, but the Rays were in business after he walked Arozarena and Diaz to leadoff the inning. A Wendle groundball moved them both into scoring position, and a Kevin Kiermaier grounder that caught the front of the second base bag, shooting it over the head of Marcus Semien and into center field, scored two runs for the Rays. With the score now 6-3, any excitement brewing was quickly dashed when Mike Brosseau (who pinch hit for Brandon Lowe in the eigth) lined one to George Springer to end the game.

The loss marks the Rays fifth in a row, and tenth in a row on the road. They’ll have one more opportunity to end the latter of those streaks tomorrow afternoon on Independence Day. Although tomorrow’s starter is yet to be announced, it seems Rich Hill is in line to face off against Toronto’s Robbie Ray.