On a day the Rays honored the late Dave Wills, the Rays dazzled on the strength of two of their best players: Shane McClanahan and Randy Arozarena.
Let’s start with a spoiler. The game ends like this:
Randy Arozarena is compelling.
For the entire game, the offense was scoring when Arozarena was involved, thanks to a two-run shot in the first inning, and an RBI single and the third.
That homerun gave the Rays 21 consecutive games with a longball, which is the most in MLB history to start a season.
Teams that have homered in every single one of their first 21 games:— Tampa Bay Rays (@RaysBaseball) April 22, 2023
Just us, the Rays. pic.twitter.com/gHUHEPd5kD
But the White Sox were hitting homeruns of their own, and three solo shots sprinkled throughout the game (including one off Jason Adam) meant it was 3-3 heading into the ninth inning, and the Rays failed to score in the bottom of the frame.
That meant not only was this game headed into extras, but for the first time this season the Rays had outs recorded in the bottom of the ninth inning.
Garrett Cleavinger got the call in consecutive nights and with a runner on second to start the tenth frame, but buckled down and cruised through is frame.
Turning to the Rays half of extras, the Rays replaced Mejia on second with Vidal Brujan, and then watched the White Sox intentionally walk Wander Franco... but to what avail?
Enter Arozarena. All he needed was one pitch.
Mama, that's a baaaaaaad man pic.twitter.com/bnnnuoStwl— Rays The Roof (@RaysTheRoofTB) April 22, 2023
- The pre-game ceremony included touching tributes to longtime play-by-play radio broadcaster Dave Wills, with video compilations of his most famous calls making their way to social media following his widow Liz’s first pitch.
Today also happened to be Autism Awareness night
Today @RaysBaseball is having autism awareness day.— Tricia Whitaker (@TriciaWhitaker) April 22, 2023
Harold Ramirez’s son has autism. Harold has been a passionate advocate for his son & autism awareness.
These are the gloves he is wearing today, with puzzle pieces, which is the symbol used to promote autism awareness. pic.twitter.com/SAKz0qf698
- Dylan Cease could not control his pitch counts today, and was chased by the Rays after just 12 outs in the game due to a pitch count near 100. Throughout the game, nearly every Rays player saw at least 4 pitches.
- By contrast, Shane McClanahan had everything going for him, racking up a free taco (10 strikeouts) in what was, without hyperbole, a masterclass.
Shane McClanahan’s 24 swings & misses so far are the most by a pitcher thru the 1st 4 innings of a game in the pitch-tracking era (2008)— Sarah Langs (@SlangsOnSports) April 22, 2023
- According to the Fox national broadcast, Pedro Martinez was the last pitcher to have as many swings and misses as Shane McClanahan. Martinez had 37 swings and misses in 2000 in a losing effort (!) against the Devil Rays, while McClanahan finished his night with 32, with his change up his most used pitch of the night.
- In the sixth inning the Rays took a long look at reviewing a play at first by Taylor Walls, but he was out and opted not to challenge. In the next at bat, Josh Lowe beat out the pitcher covering first base in a close play but the Rays didn’t take a look.
- Prior to the top of the eighth inning, Yandy Diaz had to be helped off the field, turning to the training staff after picking up his hat and glove. He’d gone 3-4 on the night with three 100+ mph batted balls, but needed help getting off the field due to lightheadedness from dehydration.
- Neil Solondz was on the call for the bottom of the tenth and graced the radio broadcast with Dave Wills iconic “Rays Win” call.