ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. – The Rays continued to get outstanding starting pitching during the four-game weekend series split of the Yankees at Tropicana Field.
The six-game homestand provided a good look at what the rotation is capable of doing. McClanahan allowed only one run in 12 innings in defeating the Marlins and Yankees. Drew Rasmussen gutted out a win against the Marlins and continues to show what an outstanding starter he can be.
Ryan Yarbrough, still getting in the grove after a groin injury sidelined him during the season’s opening month, kept the Yankees off the board for five innings Thursday before exiting in the sixth when he was charged with two earned runs. Jeffrey Springs continues to get stretched out as a starter and went a career-best six innings (two runs) Friday against New York. Corey Kluber allowed only three hits and one run in a no-decision Saturday against his former teammates.
Overall, the ERA of starting pitchers, including games in which an opener was used, is 3.21. (Typical of the Rays’ consistency, relievers have a cumulative ERA of 3.25.)
McClanahan continues to be one of the American League’s most dominant pitchers. He has won his last three starts and went 4-0 with a 1.15 ERA in five May starts. He had some traffic on the bases Sunday and threw 92 pitches in his six innings, but made the big pitches when he had to.
“It is always nice to cruise, but it is a little more satisfying and sweet when you have to battle your way through it,” he said after the game. “It was a battle, and it was fun. It was one of those games you love to be a part of.”
McClanahan is 5-2 with a 2.01 ERA that is fourth in the American League. He fanned seven Yankees giving him a major-league leading 81 strikeouts on the season.
Walls’ bat, glove: Following Thursday night’s 7-2 loss to the Yankees, Taylor Walls said that their division opponent is “very beatable.” On Sunday afternoon, Walls shined at the plate and in the field.
The 25-year-old infielder out of Florida State came into the game with only one hit in his previous 33 at-bats and was hitting .105 in his previous 28 games.
So he who hit the home run to give the Rays a lead they would not relinquish in the 4-2 win?
Walls’ fifth-inning solo homer, his second of the season and third of his career, off Luis Severino gave the Rays a 2-1 lead. Starting at third base, he showed his range by going to his left on a ball off the bat of Isiah Kinder-Falefa in the sixth to start 5-4-3 double play. After moving across the diamond to play second in top in the eighth, he turned in a highlight-reel play on an Aaron Hicks smash to end the inning.
The fact he shined on an afternoon in which the Rays earned a series split after losing the first two games made his effort a little more meaningful.
“Any time we play a division team, especially the Yankees, there is always a little tension, there are always a little more nerves because it is a rivalry,” said Walls, noting that his comment was overblown on social media. “I feel like the past couple of years we have had their number and this year I feel like, especially the way they have been playing at the start of the year, they are coming in with something to prove. So, it was good to bounce back after two tough (losses) that we started the series with, and get two wins.”
Feyer-man: J.P. Feyereisen had done everything out of the bullpen this season except pick up a save. That changed Sunday when he recorded his first save since last May 31 at Yankee Stadium. His five-pitch outing closed the door as he became the sixth Rays pitcher to earn a save this season.
Feyereisen has yet to allow an earned run. He has allowed one unearned run in 23 innings over 20 appearances. The righthander has permitted all of five hits with the opposition hitting .067 against him.
“He’s in a real good spot,” said manager Kevin Cash. “He has three pitches that are probably at an all-time high for him right now.”
Streak snapped: Manny Margot’s 15-game hitting streak came to an end Sunday when he went 0-for-3. During the streak, the outfielder hit .451 (23-for-51) with three homers and 16 RBI. Jason Bartlett’s 19-game streak in 2009 is the team record.
Injury updates: Shane Baz has logged consecutive starts of 2 1/3 innings for Triple-A Durham and will start for the Bulls on Monday as he continues to work his way back from arthroscopic surgery on his right elbow.…..Andrew Kittredge, on the 10-day injured list with lower back tightness, said before Saturday’s game that a rehab game or two could be next for him. “I feel like I am ready to get back in the mound and get to work,” he said…..Cash noted that Luis Patino (left oblique strain) felt good following a bullpen session Saturday.
Quick trip: For the second straight week the Rays have a one-city trip between homestands. They open a four-game series in Arlington against the Rangers on Monday night when Drew Rasmussen will be opposed by Glenn Otto. The Rays return home Friday to open a three-game weekend series against the White Sox. That will be followed by three games against the Cardinals, who last visited Tropicana Field in 2014.