Rays’ Shane McClanahan calls opening-day outing ‘good starting point’

Leaning heavily on his four-seam fastball, the ace left-hander strikes out six over six scoreless innings.
Shane McClanahan, shown pitching in the sixth inning, threw six scoreless innings Thursday, striking out six while allowing just four hits and one walk.
Shane McClanahan, shown pitching in the sixth inning, threw six scoreless innings Thursday, striking out six while allowing just four hits and one walk. [ IVY CEBALLO | Times ]
Published March 31|Updated March 31

ST. PETERSBURG — It was a good start in every way.

Rays starter Shane McClanahan dominated the Tigers in a 4-0 opening-day win Thursday at Tropicana Field, throwing six shutout innings. The left-hander struck out six and walked one, and allowed four hits.

His first outing of the season was everything the Rays could have asked for.

“Kyle (Snyder, pitching coach) referenced a couple errant fastballs up, but you would expect that on opening day,” manager Kevin Cash said. “(McClanahan) was able to harness it and get it back in the zone. He made just a lot of really quality pitches and gave us a start that we will never complain about — six innings, no runs. We’ll sign up for it every night.”

McClanahan became the third pitcher in Rays history to throw at least six scoreless innings on opening day, joining Tyler Glasnow (2021) and Steve Trachsel (2000). It was the fourth time in McClanahan’s career that he had thrown at least six scoreless innings.

The game was a glimpse of the McClanahan the Rays didn’t see much of late in the 2022 season, when he went 2-5 with a 4.20 ERA. It was more like the first half, when he was 10-3 with a 1.71 ERA and 147 strikeouts over 110⅔ innings, earning the All-Star Game start for the American League.

McClanahan, the first Rays pitcher to start consecutive opening days since Chris Archer made four from 2015-18, saw it as a good day’s work.

“I felt really good,” he said. “Obviously, my first start of the year, you don’t want to do too much, but I felt good. That was a good start to build off of.”

McClanahan leaned on his four-seam fastball. Of his 16 swings and misses, eight came on the fastball.

“I feel I threw a lot of strikes with it,” McClanahan said. “Could’ve done some stuff better. Absolutely. And that’s the beauty of baseball; it’s an imperfect game.

“I thought it was a good starting point for myself, and obviously I have a lot to work on, but I did a lot right (Thursday).”

McClanahan, 25, also saw things he can refine as the season progresses.

“I can improve the quality of those strikes,” he said. “I want to attack in the zone and just kind of keep the attack mindset I always have. Just nothing changes. Just keep doing that.”

He also hopes to go deeper into games. Cash went to McClanahan after the fifth inning, when he had made 79 pitches, to make sure he was OK to go back out for the sixth.

“I told him I felt great but in some stronger words,” McClanahan said. “My arm felt great. I felt good, and it was fun out there.

“Opening days are super special to all of us, and to be able to go six and get the win, that was awesome.”

Contact Kristie Ackert at

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