ST. PETERSBURG, FL. – Former USF stars Shane McClanahan and Phoenix Sanders had impressive outings as the Rays took two of three from division rival Boston at Tropicana Field over the weekend.
Sanders threw two perfect innings in Friday night’s 4-3 loss. The 26-year-old right-hander, making his second career appearance, came on in the eighth and kept the Rays within a run.
“He does a nice job of mixing his pitches,” said Rays manager Kevin Cash. “He has two good breaking balls that he can use and pops in enough fastballs to keep them honest. He limited Boston and gave us a chance.”
Sanders made his MLB debut at the Trop on April 14 against Oakland. He allowed one run in three innings.
McClanahan, who turns 25 on Thursday, was only nine pitches into his outing against Boston on Sunday when he allowed two runs on four hits. He then retired 20 of the last 22 batters he faced in the Rays’ 5-2 win.
In picking up his first win of the season, and the first by a Rays’ starter in 2022, McClanahan (1-1, 2.45) fanned seven and ended the day leading the majors with 31 strikeouts.
His seven-inning outing tied a career high. That was key after seven pitchers took the mound in the Rays’ remarkable win Saturday night.
“I didn’t want the bullpen to come in at all,” said the lefty, who was followed by Colin Poche and Ryan Thompson, with the latter picking up his second career save. “They’ve been busting their butts all season for us. The bullpen definitely needs a little rest. I didn’t think I had the luxury of maybe not having my best stuff or my best outing.”
In a pinch: Ji-Man Choi’s pinch-hit, bases-loaded double off Boston’s Ryan Brasier drove in the first two runs during Sunday’s decisive three-run fifth inning for the Rays. Dating to last season, Choi has reached base safely in seven straight pinch-hit appearances. He has three doubles and four walks resulting in seven RBI.
Welcome back: On Friday against Boston, lefty reliever Colin Poche made his first appearance since the 2019 ALDS against Houston. He underwent Tommy John surgery in July 2020, missing all of that abbreviated season and as well as last season while continuing his recovery.
“I was taking it all in (before the game) and thinking about the journey over the last couple of years,” said Poche, who needed only six pitches to retire the side in order. “It was a pretty special day. Going out to the mound, I just kind of treated it like any outing. I didn’t feel too many nerves or anything like that.”
Poche also pitched a scoreless eighth inning Sunday to help preserve McClanahan’s victory.
Extra, Extra!: Saturday night’s 3-2 win in 10 innings against the Red Sox will not soon be forgotten. According to ESPN Stats & Info, it was the first time in MLB history a team lost a no-hit bid in extra innings, only to win in a walk-off. According to Stats LLC, since 1974 when such data became available, it was the fifth time a team carried a no-hitter into extra innings joining the Dodgers (2017), Pirates (1997) and Expos (1995, 1991).
Battling the bug: Through Sunday, the Rays had three players placed on the COVID-19 injured list. Jeffrey Springs went on it Sunday after coming in close contact with somebody who has the virus, according to the team. Yandy Diaz missed Saturday’s game due to possible virus-related symptoms, but was cleared and reinstated Sunday. He started at first base and homered, walked, and scored twice. Francisco Mejia tested positive and was placed on the list Friday.
“His symptoms are getting better,” said Cash, prior to Sunday’s game, of Mejia. “He is still pretty achy, but seems to be in pretty good spirits.”
Homestand continues: Following Monday’s off day, a 10-day, nine-game homestand continues with the Mariners coming to the Trop for three games starting Tuesday night. The Twins, managed by former Rays standout Rocco Baldelli, arrive in St. Pete for a three-game weekend series starting Friday.