ST. PETERSBURG — Having found a solid frame of mind, as well as the strike zone, in Sunday’s start in Seattle, Rays left-hander Shane McClanahan hopes to deliver a sequel Saturday against the Angels at Tropicana Field.
“You try and get to that feeling and remember that feeling, how you felt out there,” the former USF ace said. “And it gives you that confidence and just try and get back to that head space.”
McClanahan threw 86 pitches in six innings in Sunday’s 6-2 loss to the Mariners, allowing a run on three hits and striking out eight. It was by far his best start in a month, standing in glaring contest to his previous outing against the White Sox (two earned runs, seven hits in five innings).
“First-pitch strikes,” said McClanahan (2-2, 4.03 ERA), who seeks his first win in nearly a month (May 27). “I definitely thought I did a better job of that than in Chicago, and the results were a little better. So, just emphasize filling it up and attacking early.”
Saturday, he faces a stacked Angels lineup led by pitcher-slugger Shohei Ohtani, who had the second-most home runs in the majors (23) entering Friday night’s game.
“He’s a freak,” McClanahan said. “How do you go throw 100 (mph) and then hit 450-foot home runs? I can’t do that. So, he’s a one-of-a-kind player.”
McHugh momentum continues
Right-hander Collin McHugh delivered another scoreless relief stint Friday night, allowing a double to the first batter he faced (Taylor Ward) before retiring four consecutive batters to earn the win.
McHugh (2-1) has retired 20 of the last 21 batters he has faced. His last eight appearances, which span 16 innings, have been scoreless and he has allowed 10 hits, walked two and struck out 23.
“Since he’s come off the IL (May 4), he has just been absolutely dominant,” left-hander Josh Fleming said. “His slider’s disgusting. Even when he throws a heater every now and then, it moves a ton. He’s so hard to hit right now, and he’s unpredictable with what he’s going to throw.”
Walk-off win upstaged Wacha
Partially obscured by the late dramatics of the Rays’ 1-0 walk-off win Thursday against the Red Sox was an encouraging — and relatively extensive — performance by right-handed starter Michael Wacha.
A utility pitcher of sorts (multi-inning opener, traditional starter, bullpen guy), Wacha held the Red Sox hitless for 4⅔ innings, allowing only one hit while striking out seven (five on changeups) through five. The performance came six days after a dreadful outing (3⅔ innings, five runs, 11 hits) at Seattle in his first start as Tyler Glasnow’s replacement in the rotation.
“There’s been some inconsistencies with his workload, his routine,” manager Kevin Cash said.
“For him to go out there, pitch like a starter, field like a starter, and get results that you want, that goes a long way. And then getting five (innings) — I think he got four (innings) in Seattle — to add another one, he should be close to that territory if needed, to get to that full-go mark where we’re talking about six innings, 100 pitches, whatever it is.”
Odds and ends
Austin Meadows, who had a two-run base hit in the first inning, is batting .315 (17-for-54) with a majors-best 17 RBIs in the first inning this season. ... Friday’s triumph was Tampa Bay’s 21st come-from-behind win of the season, second-most in the majors behind the Red Sox (25 entering Friday). ... The Rays are 5-0 against the Angels this season, and have outscored them, 30-11. ... Cash said either Monday or Tuesday has been “lightly circled” as a day for right-handed starter Chris Archer to face hitters. Archer left his April 10 start with an elbow injury, then lost his mother, Donna, three weeks later. ... Angels second baseman David Fletcher’s second-inning double Friday extended his hit streak to 10 games. ... Shortly before Friday’s game, the Angels placed outfielder Justin Upton (lower back strain) on the 10-day injured list, and recalled former Ray Kean Wong from Triple-A Salt Lake.
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