The most frustrating part about the Rays’ quick postseason exit was that they had nothing to show for superb pitching.

Tampa Bay Rays Wasted Great Pitching In Wild Card Series Loss Against Cleveland

The most frustrating part about the Rays’ quick postseason exit was that they had nothing to show for superb pitching.
Tyler Glasnow, Credit: Tampa Bay Rays

The most frustrating part about the Rays’ quick postseason exit was that they had nothing to show for superb pitching.

It would be one thing if the pitching faltered and the offense was playing catch-up during the course of their wild card series in Cleveland. Instead, the pitching was left with no margin for error while responding remarkably well to the lack of support during the two-game sweep.

Shane McClanahan, who had not thrown more than five innings while averaging 74 pitches in four starts since a stint on the injured list sidelined him the first two weeks of September, went seven innings and threw 85 pitches in Game 1.

Jose Ramirez’s two-run homer off the 25-year-old lefty in the sixth, after Jose Siri gave the Rays a 1-0 with a homer in the top half of the inning, put Cleveland on top. The 2-1 deficit was too much for the Rays to overcome and made a loser of McClanahan, who turned in a winning effort.

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For the record, McClanahan’s seven innings are the most by a Rays starting pitcher in 32 playoff games managed by Kevin Cash. The team mark is 7 1/3 innings by Andy Sonnanstine and James Shields in the 2008 ALCS against Boston.

Tyler Glasnow’s five-inning effort in Game 2 was a thing of beauty, and something he had been working up to. The 6-foot-8 righthander authored a remarkable return from Tommy John surgery with three innings of two-hit ball (one run) at Cleveland on September 28.

Things only got better for Glasnow when he fanned seven and logged 64 pitches in blanking the Red Sox over 3 2/3 innings last Monday. He then gave Cash five exceptional innings Saturday, allowing only two hits while strikeout out five in an extremely efficient 63-pitch effort.

That’s two runs in 12 innings from the starters. In fact, McClanahan and Glasnow combined to not issue a single walk.

The bullpen was superb as well, something that was highlighted by Jason Adam’s effort Saturday. After Pete Fairbanks walked the first two batters in the sixth and was removed from the game due to lack of feeling in a couple of his fingers on his pitching hand, Adam came on and promptly plunked Amed Rosario to load the bases with nobody out. From there, the 31-year-old righthander looked like the pitcher Rays fans saw all season. He fanned Ramirez and got Josh Naylor to ground into an inning-ending double play.

Adam, who made his first appearance in 10 days, then worked around a leadoff single by Andres Gimenez in the seventh for his only two-inning stint of the season.

Of course, the offense could not take advantage of such clutch relief. And, so it went for several more innings.

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It is kind of ironic how the series, and the season, ended. Corey Kluber, the second Rays starting pitcher (Drew Rasmussen) to come out of the bullpen in Game 2, took the loss when he allowed Oscar Gonzalez’s homer leading off the bottom of the 15th. It was Kluber who won a pair of Cy Young awards (2014, 2017) while pitching on that same mound for Cleveland for nearly a decade.

While the Stetson product allowed a series-clinching homer, pitching was not the problem in a series in which the Rays scored one run in 24 innings.

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