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Rays get offensive in beating Tigers

After manager Kevin Cash says the offense needed to step up, the team responds with its best showing in 10 days.
The Rays' Kevin Kiermaier (39) celebrates with catcher Mike Zunino (10) after Kiermaier’s solo home run in the second inning against the Tigers at Tropicana Field on Tuesday night.
The Rays' Kevin Kiermaier (39) celebrates with catcher Mike Zunino (10) after Kiermaier’s solo home run in the second inning against the Tigers at Tropicana Field on Tuesday night. [ IVY CEBALLO | Times ]
Published May 18|Updated May 18

ST. PETERSBURG — For a guy who “just felt all right” and didn’t have his best stuff, Shane McClanahan had another impressive night on the mound for the Rays, working seven dominant innings in the 8-1 win over the Tigers.

He was pretty good in the predictions department as well.

McClanahan said he noted Tuesday afternoon how his Rays mates came in ready to play after a disappointing loss the night before, punctuated by another quiet night offensively.

And that during the first inning Tuesday, presumably after he left the mound, he “just had a feeling” they were going to have a big night with the bats, and he shared that with the group.

“I said, ‘The boys are going to come out hot today,’ ” McClanahan said. “And I’m glad I was right. When an offense is clicking like that and everybody’s going, it’s a sight to see, it’s a lot of fun to be part of.”

Rays starting pitcher Shane McClanahan delivers a pitch in the first inning against the Tigers.
Rays starting pitcher Shane McClanahan delivers a pitch in the first inning against the Tigers. [ IVY CEBALLO | Times ]

The eight runs were more than the Rays (22-15) scored in their last three games combined, and their most in one game in a week-and-a-half.

Better, it was the group effort manager Kevin Cash said they needed to break out of what he called “a team rut,” noting that other players needed to produce with Brandon Lowe and Manuel Margot out with injuries.

“It was really, really good to see,” Cash said. “We’ve had a couple quiet nights. We got Shane some early runs, which was encouraging. … It felt like whole lineup contributed one way or the other.”

They pretty much did, capped by all three outfielders — Randy Arozarena, Kevin Kiermaier and Brett Phillips — hitting home runs. Ji-Man Choi knocked in two runs. Harold Ramirez had a hand in a couple rallies. Every starter but Vidal Brujan either had a hit or scored a run.

“We need some guys to step up — veterans, rookies, everyone involved,” Kiermaier said. “We need to be better. Give a little bit more run support for our pitchers, something we’ve been so good at in years past.

“We’re just trying to make all the right adjustments to fire on all cylinders and feed off each other one through nine. No matter what lineup’s out there, each and every day, we’ve got the guys to do it. So we’re going to try to build off (Tuesday) and find more consistency as the season goes along.”

Randy Arozarena looks up while crossing home plate after hitting a solo home run in the eighth inning.
Randy Arozarena looks up while crossing home plate after hitting a solo home run in the eighth inning. [ IVY CEBALLO | Times ]
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There was plenty of praise to go around, and Cash had some specifically for Arozarena, who made another highlights-worthy diving catch, but more importantly hit his second homer in what has been a rough start to the season that the Rays are hoping he can get break out of.

“Happy to see Randy smile, feel good,” Cash said. “He deserves (to). He’s had some rough luck here lately.”

Said Arozarena, via team interpreter Manny Navarro: “I know I’ve been struggling a little bit. I’d gotten (off) to a slow start so far this year, but I think I’m getting better as of late. I’m glad I was able to connect on that. It felt pretty good. Hopefully I can continue that streak.”

Though he talked about how he had to battle, McClanahan had reason to smile as well.

He retired the first nine Tigers, allowed only one big hit (a homer by Jeimer Candelario to open the fifth), and got 18 swing-and-misses on the way to seven strikeouts, giving him 65 for the season, second most in the majors.

“Incredible,” Kiermaier said. “Best in the league. I don’t want anyone else on the mound other than him. He is absolutely dominant. Doesn’t matter if it’s righty or lefty, no one looks comfortable off him. ... He has gotten so much better from last year to this year, and it seems like he gets better every start.”

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