The Rays wanted Shane McClanahan to get back to what he was doing back in the old days, like in late April and early May when he was first called up — essentially, manager Kevin Cash said, to let it rip.
The rookie lefty did just that Sunday, delivering arguably the best of his 10 major-league starts, allowing only one run over a career-most six innings, giving up three hits (albeit one a homer) while walking one and striking out a career-high eight.
He threw 61 of his 86 pitches for strikes, getting ahead more, working more crisply and showing more of his high-end velocity, three pitches clocking at 100 mph and eight others at 99-plus in the 6-2, 10-inning loss at Seattle.
“It was a really good one, that’s for sure,” Cash said. “Deepest and most efficient. He just really attacked the zone well. The stuff played up. He did a very nice job.
“Gives up (just) a solo homer, and you’d like to think those types of outings you’re going to get wins from them. We will, and we do. But very impressed with Shane’s overall work.”
McClanahan, as usual, heaped praise on the defense, noting plays by Yandy Diaz at third base and Brett Phillips in centerfield. He also made sure to acknowledge catcher Mike Zunino for his help.
But McClanahan, who didn’t pitch particularly well in his last three outings, also acknowledged he knew he had to do his part.
“I wanted to get back to what I felt like I’ve been doing a good job all year of,” he said, “and that’s controlling the count and getting ahead.”
The Rays have one of the best records in the majors overall at 43-30 and one of the worst in extra innings at 3-8, losing their last five.
Their problem has been twofold. One, especially for a team built on pitching and defense, is allowing too many runs in extra innings (a majors-most 26).
The other is not scoring frequently enough, posting 18 runs but being shut out in 11 of the 18 extra innings, including four straight and six of seven, which is particularly vexing since innings start with a runner on second.
Sunday they used speedy Kevin Kiermaier as a pinch-runner, but Joey Wendle flew out and Brett Phillips popped out before Manuel Margot’s comebacker ended the 10th.
“We’ve just got to do a better job of getting that guy over,” Cash said
The key, he said, is hitters adjusting to the situation, specifically left-handers who just have to pull a ground ball to the right side.
• Ryan Yarbrough will handle bulk innings in Tuesday’s series opener against the Red Sox, but the Rays are still deciding if he will start or work behind an opener. Rich Hill will start Wednesday.
• Brandon Lowe on Saturday became the second Ray to hit a game-tying, pinch-hit homer with two outs in the ninth. The other was Dan Johnson, who hit a pretty big one against the Yankees in 2011 in the classic Game 162, the one where Evan Longoria later hit a walkoff. It was the eighth game-tying homer with two outs in the ninth for the Rays, and the second by Lowe, who also did so on Sept. 26, 2020.
• Shed Long hit the ninth walkoff grand slam in Mariners history. The last one was also against the Rays, by Richie Sexson on Aug. 8, 2006, off Seth McClung.
• • •
Sign up for the Rays Report weekly newsletter to get fresh perspectives on the Tampa Bay Rays and the rest of the majors from sports columnist John Romano.