Happy McClanahan Day! Coming off a tough road series against the Red Sox, the Rays traveled to Miami for a two-game set against the Marlins, following a Monday off day. Coming out of the All-Star Break, Shane McClanahan struggled to match the first-half form that earned him the start in the Midsummer Classic. He pitched more like his first-half self in his last start against the Angels, throwing six shutout innings while striking out nine. And with Justin Verlander headed to the IL, McClanahan’s Cy Young candidacy is still going strong.
Well, shit. It doesn’t feel like the rest of this recap even matters. Sure, the Rays came through with a barage of hits to get out to a comfortable lead against Miami. Sure, the bullpen was lights out and seemingly didn’t party too hard in South Beach last night. Sure, the Rays are now within 6.5 games of the Yankees, giving fans just the slightest bit of hope that their team might threepeat as AL East champs.
But it feels like the happenings from Tuesday’s games just don’t matter. Maybe we should be grateful for victories like this, because it seems like we’ll need a few more just like it throughout the pennant race. So, I guess I’ll recap this game for those of you that still have hope in the 2022 season.
Shane McClanahan was scheduled to start, but when Shawn Armstrong jogged out to the mound in the bottom of the first, the fans, the writers on the beat, and even Dewayne and BA on the television broadcast were shocked. The team stated that McClanahan was scratched with a left shoulder impingement and is expected to undergo further imaging on Wednesday.
The @RaysBaseball Ace pitcher Shane McClanahan was supposed to start tonight but it was Shawn Armstrong who took the mound instead.— Bally Sports Sun: Rays (@BallyRays) August 30, 2022
Here is McClanahan warming up before tonight's game.#MLB | #RaysUp pic.twitter.com/Ur3sqpJVcR
Facing Marlins’ lefty Jesus Luzardo, Kevin Cash chose to leave his three left-handed bats on the bench. In the Rays last three games facing a left-handed pitcher, David Peralta is the only lefty to break into the starting lineup, doing so against Patrick Sandoval and the Angels. Also of note, the lineup initially included Isaac Paredes at first base, but he was scratched with leg soreness and replaced by Christian Bethancourt, who would make only his second start at the position for the Rays.
Tuesday’s contest also marked Joey Wendle’s first game against his former team, where he was an All-Star in 2021.
The Rays scored in the third inning on a Jose Siri RBI-double. Yandy Díaz doubled him in to make it 2-0. Siri was not done making in impact on either side of the ball tonight.
Later in the game, Jose Siri made two incredible defensive plays. He threw Luke Williams out at third base with one of the best throws you’ll see all season, and then later made a leaping catch in front of the center field wall. He’s making me miss Kevin Kiermaier and Brett Phillips a lot less.
Oh, you thought he was done? In the seventh inning, a solo home run made it 6-0. Coming off the bat at 111.4 miles per hour, the ball soured over the center field wall and travelled 439 feet from home plate. It was Siri’s third hit and third run scored of the night. He might not hit like this every night, but on August 30th, 2022, Jose Siri was the best player on the planet.
Shawn Armstrong threw the first three innings of what turned into a bullpen day. He allowed just three hits and no runs. Then, the fully rested bullpen ate up the last six frames. Brooks Raley pitched a shutout fifth and struck out two. Jason Adam was brought in to stop the Marlins from mounting a comeback in the seventh, and was able to strike out the only two batters he faced, including one on a devastating 93 mph changeup in the dirt.
Jason Adam, Sick Changeups. pic.twitter.com/pLHBCY0j0V— Rob Friedman (@PitchingNinja) August 31, 2022
It ended up being an amazing game for the Rays. Arozarena added another insurance run in the ninth with a massive home run. He also stole two more bases. Colin Poche pitched a clean ninth inning! If you didn’t know who was starting today and tuned in after the bottom of the first, you were probably ecstatic with how the night played out. Nonetheless, tonight didn’t feel like a win.
The final Citrus Series game of the season will take place tomorrow evening. Drew Rasmussen is scheduled to pitch, but I’ll wait until he takes the mound in the bottom of the first before I make any assumptions.