Handshakes and an orange roof for the winners.

Corey Kluber matched Chris Sale pitch-for-pitch on Tuesday, while Tampa Bay’s offense went to work in the sixth inning, as the Rays won their fourth straight against Boston (extending back to the previous series), 3-2.

At 47-40 on the season, the Rays enter play seven games over .500. They are 6-2 against Boston and have the top Wildcard spot by a half-game. Meanwhile, the Red Sox STILL have not won a series in the AL East this season.

Corey Kluber got the start against Boston and struck out seven in six innings while allowing two runs on four hits and a walk on 88 pitches (52 strikes, 59% strike rate). Kluber faced the minimum through the first four frames, striking out five and eliminating the lone baserunner on a double-play ball. After allowing two singles, he gave up a two-run triple to Bobby Dalbec (that should have been caught by Brett Phillips if not for interference by Randy Arozarena, who also attempted to track down the deeply hit ball) with two outs in the fifth. The seven strikeouts were his most in a start since he recorded eight on May 16. Kluber now maintains a 3.58 ERA and 3.29 FIP, with a 1.09 WHIP, and a 5.64 K/BB across 88.0 innings on the season.

The Rays had multiple opportunities to score against Sale. In the third inning, Yu Chang singled to right-center and with one out Yandy Diaz walked. But, Ramirez lined to centerfield and Bethancourt struck out looking on a borderline full-count pitch.

In the fourth inning, Paredes doubled to left, then moved up to third on a groundball out by Arozarena. But, Choi lined a one-hopper at Trevor Story, who made a diving stop and held Paredes at third. Walls ended the threat on a liner to center.

Tampa Bay began its rally against right-hander Ryan Brasier in the sixth inning. Ramirez led off the frame with an infield single into the hole at short; his second hit of the night. After Christian Bethancourt lined out to short on a 108 mph missile, Paredes walked. Arozarena, though, went down swinging for the second out of the inning.

Enter left-hander Matt Strahm, who took over to face Choi. Kevin Cash opted to pinch-hit Francisco Mejía for Choi.

Adam Berry (MLB.com) wrote about the decision to pull Choi in favor of Mejía, writing:

Choi is hitting .394 against left-handers this season, and he’s been one of the Rays’ better hitters overall and their best with runners in scoring position. But manager Kevin Cash pinch-hit for Choi with the switch-hitting catcher Mejía, who could face Strahm right-handed.

The move made sense, as Mejía entered the night 15-for-44 against southpaws this season. And it worked, as he slapped a 1-1 slider from Strahm back up the middle for the fifth RBI pinch-hit of his career.

— Adam Berry

Mejía’s hit cut the deficit to a run.

Walls followed with a 98 mph screamer that was hit at Strahm, who threw both his hands behind his body to protect himself. Yet, the comebacker struck his left wrist and bounded away. As the ball rolled between home plate and the mound, Strahm scrambled to get it and fired off a throw that was well wide of first. Paredes scored to tie the game and first baseman Franchy Cordero tracked down the wide throw and then rushed an errant throw that bounced off catcher Christian Vázquez’s glove and toward Boston’s dugout, allowing Mejía to come around and score to put the Rays up by a run.

Jalen Beeks took over for Kluber in the seventh and worked his way out of a huge jam to keep Tampa Bay in front. With a two-strike count, Alex Verdugo shortened up his swing and hit a ground ball past the bag at third for a double to start the frame. Then Jeter Downs, taking over the at-bat for the injured Trevor Story with a 3-2 count, lined a single to left, putting runners at the corners. With Cordero squaring up to bunt in his second consecutive at-bat, Verdugo was picked off of third by Mejía for the first out. With the bunt play off, Cordero struck out looking. After Bobby Dalbec walked, pinch-hitter Rob Refsnyder popped out to first, ending the threat. Beeks then followed that up with 1-2-3 eighth.

Finally, Brooks Raley worked around a two-out walk of Downs but got Cordero to strike out to end the contest.

The New What Next

Shane McClanahan (9-3, 1.73 ERA) will get the start on Wednesday, pitching opposite Connor Seabold (0-2, 11.91 ERA) who is expected to pitch in front of Josh Winckowski (3-3, 4.35 ERA).

Shane McClanahan allowed a run on three hits and two walks while striking out eight in six innings on Friday against the Reds. McClanahan was incredibly sharp once again, as the lone run he gave up came via a solo homer in the bottom of the third. However, he didn’t get much run support from the Rays and was unable to pick up a third consecutive win. The southpaw has delivered 11 consecutive quality starts dating back to May 11, and he’s posted a 1.13 ERA and 9.4 K/BB in 72 innings during that time. Overall, McClanahan maintains a 1.73 ERA and 2.47 FIP, with a 0.81 WHIP, and a 7.42 K/BB across 104.1 innings. He is 1-0 with a 2.57 ERA against the Red Sox in 2022.

Josh Winckowski allowed six earned runs on six hits and five walks while striking out two across five innings on Thursday against the Yankees. Winckowski gave up five runs in the third inning, surrendering a grand slam to Josh Donaldson and a solo home run to Aaron Hicks. He pitched effectively for the most part otherwise and still managed to work at least five innings for his fifth consecutive start. Previous to Thursday’s outing, Winckowski had allowed two earned runs or fewer in four of his five appearances. Overall, he has a 4.35 ERA and 4.17 FIP, with a 1.75 K/BB, and a 1.52 across 31.0 innings. Winckowski relies primarily on a 94 mph sinker and an 85 mph slider that has exceptional depth, while also mixing in a 94 mph four-seam fastball that has some natural sinking action, a 90 mph worm-killer changeup that has some arm-side fade, and a whiffy 88 mph cutter that has some natural sink and strong cutting action.

You can read about the series in our preview, while the starting lineup is below.

Rays 7/13/22 Starting Lineup

  1. Díaz 3B
  2. Choi 1B
  3. Ramírez RF
  4. Paredes 2B
  5. Aranda DH
  6. Arozarena LF
  7. Walls SS
  8. J. Lowe CF
  9. Mejía C


— A dawg’s update: