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Red-eyed Rays bypassed batting practice prior to Thursday’s offensive outburst

Notes | For the first time in 2022, the Rays had a home game right after a night road contest.
The Rays celebrate after Thursday night's 7-1 rout of the Royals at Tropicana Field.
The Rays celebrate after Thursday night's 7-1 rout of the Royals at Tropicana Field. [ JEFFEREE WOO | Times ]
Published Aug. 19|Updated Aug. 19

ST. PETERSBURG — Rays manager Kevin Cash’s response to the question Thursday afternoon was as short as his club’s game-to-game turnaround.

Do you think your players look tired?

“No,” Cash said, with zero hesitance. “No. They’re not.”

Thursday marked the first time in 2022 in which the Rays had a home contest the night after an evening road game. While such logistics are hardly rare at the big-league level, Thursday’s turnaround was especially brief, considering Wednesday night’s game in the Bronx — a 10-inning, 8-7 loss to the Yankees that featured a 63-minute rain delay — ended just after midnight.

As a result, the Rays’ charter flight landed at St. Pete-Clearwater International Airport at roughly 5 a.m. Thursday. First pitch against the Royals was 14 hours later, at 7:10 p.m.

“I just kind of woke up because I felt the (plane) wheels hit the ground,” said left-handed ace Shane McClanahan, who starts Friday against the Royals. “I was like, ‘OK, we’re home.’”

The Rays bypassed batting practice before Thursday’s game, their seventh in a stretch of 17 contests in as many days. Nonetheless, they collected 12 hits in a 7-1 rout of the Royals, recording six extra-base hits — the 11th time this season they have had at least six in a game.

It was the fifth time they have scored at least six runs in a game since Aug. 4.

“Look, this is part of it. I mean, these guys get it,” Cash said.

“There’s certain parts of the season where the travel gets challenging. There’s no doubt (Wednesday) night was challenging, but every team goes through that. I like the way the guys came in. We gave them off today, no (batting practice). We’ll probably do the same thing (Friday) just to make sure everybody’s kind of getting caught up on rest, and continue out the series.”

Rays first baseman Ji-Man Choi rounds second and runs toward third base during the eighth inning.
Rays first baseman Ji-Man Choi rounds second and runs toward third base during the eighth inning. [ JEFFEREE WOO | Times ]

Margot hits, Franco sits

For the second straight day, Wander Franco sat out for Triple-A Durham in its series at Norfolk after soreness to his surgically mended right hand forced him out of Tuesday’s game.

Still, Cash expressed cautious optimism as the team contemplates activating Franco within the next week. The obvious key will be the 21-year-old’s pain tolerance upon attempting to swing a bat. He was forced out of Tuesday’s game shortly after grimacing on a swing.

“Good day (Thursday),” Cash said. “Came in and got treatment, I think he did some running. (Friday) he’ll get back into treatment again, and then also get on the field for ground balls and stuff. And then we’ll see just day to day how his hand feels.”

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Meantime, outfielder Manuel Margot went 2-for-5 with an RBI and a pair of singles Thursday in his seventh rehab game for Durham. Out since late June with a patellar tendon strain in his right knee, Margot is slated to rejoin the Rays on Saturday, the first day he’s eligible to be reinstated from the 60-day disabled list.

“Very excited about Manny,” Cash added. “They had an early day (Thursday), so we’ve got some decisions to make. He can’t come off until (Saturday), but I feel like he’s in a really good spot.”

Swoons subside

Helping open the figurative floodgates Thursday for the Rays were some hitters previously mired in miserable funks.

Second baseman Brandon Lowe was 1-for-25, and 2-for-his-last-29, before his run-scoring single in the seventh inning. Catcher Christian Bethancourt, who had homered once in his past 31 games after hitting four in an eight-game stretch in early June, had a solo blast in the eighth.

And Ji-Man Choi snapped a 3-for-44 skid with an eighth-inning double to left, but was thrown out at third trying to stretch it into a triple.

Even the Royals ended an embarrassing funk. Michael Massey’s leadoff home run in the top of the eighth ended Kansas City’s scoreless-innings streak at 33. It was the Royals’ first run since Vinnie Pasquantino’s two-run homer Monday against the Twins.

Contact Joey Knight at jknight@tampabay.com. Follow @TBTimes_Bulls.

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