(Photo Credit: X-Rays Spex)

In dire need of a win, and with the season series against the Orioles on the line, the Tampa Bay Rays got some timely — and frankly lucky — hits, as they defeated Baltimore 8-2 on Saturday.

At 59-53 on the season, the Rays regained a 0.5 game foothold on the final AL Wildcard spot.

Shane McClanahan got the start Saturday and gave up two earned runs on seven hits and three walks (tying a career high) while striking out four across six innings. He threw 100 pitches (65 strikes, 65% strike rate), and coaxed 20 swinging strikes. All the damage against the left-hander came in the second inning after Ramon Urias hit a leadoff double and Jorge Mateo hit a 60 mph single through the hole which allowed Urias to move up to third two batters later. Rougned Odor followed with an RBI ground ball through the left side, where the shortstop would have been hadn’t the Rays shifted — much to the chagrin of a visibly upset McClanahan. In the at-bat that followed, Robinson Chirinos hit an RBI single which gave the Orioles a temporary one-run lead. From then on, however, McClanahan only allowed two walks and two singles in his last four innings of work, keeping the Rays in the contest. No pitcher this season has recorded more swinging strikes while striking out four batters or fewer in a single game this season.

Meanwhile, the Rays struck early against rookie hurler DL Hall. In the bottom of the first, Yu Chang drew a leadoff walk and then advanced to third on a 70 mph single through the right side off the bat of Randy Arozarena. Isaac Paredes followed with a confusing, yet effective, groundout to third which allowed Chang to cross the plate.

Down by a run in the bottom of the third, the Rays fought hard to regain a lead they’d never relinquish. After a leadoff walk from Taylor Walls, which was subsequently erased by Yandy Díaz’s fielder’s choice to third, Randy Arozarena doubled to center to tie the game. Paredes followed with an RBI double to score Arozarena, while Francisco Mejía kept things rolling with an RBI single to put Tampa Bay up by a pair.

José Siri wrought havoc upon the Orioles in the fourth inning. After hitting a leadoff single to right, Siri stole second on a close play that was initially ruled out on the field. Tampa Bay challenged the call, though, and the play was overturned.

Siri was also able to swipe third before Yu Chang drove him home on sac-fly.

The scoring continued in the bottom of the sixth inning against Spenser Watkins. The rally started when Siri hit a line drive single to left, then advanced to second on Walls’ flyout. Siri ultimately scored on Chang’s RBI base hit.

Yet, tempers flared in the top of the eighth inning with big Pete Fairbanks on the bump. With a runner on second and two outs, Chirinos stepped into the box. The backstop worked the count square before he called for a very late timeout as Fairbanks was beginning his delivery. After striking out the former Ray, Fairbanks, uhh… shared his displeasure with the late call while walking back to the Rays’ dugout.

But things eventually settled down with an inning left to play, although that doesn’t mean the Rays were content with a slam lead. Enter Taylor Walls.

With a runner on first, Walls got into a 1-2, 91 mph offering from Watkins and sent it 364 feet into the right-field stands, capping the Rays’ scoring at eight runs.

The New What Next

The season series concludes Sunday with Drew Rasmussen (6-4, 2.96 ERA) on the mound, pitching opposite Jordan Lyles (9-8, 4.35 ERA).

Drew Rasmussen was lifted in the top of the fourth inning on Sunday after striking out two over three no-hit innings and 33 pitches. The early exit on a day he was pitching so well was likely frustrating, but Rasmussen at least turned in a 1.00 ERA and 0.88 WHIP during his two-start week. Overall, he maintains a 2.96 ERA and 3.54 FIP, with a 1.17 WHIP, and a 3.00 K/BB across 91.1 frames. He is 0-0 with a 4.15 ERA in two starts against Baltimore this season.

Jordan Lyles gave up two runs on eight hits and two walks over 5.2 innings against the Blue Jays on Monday. He struck out one. It wasn’t a dominant performance by the veteran right-hander, although Lyles was staked to a 3-0 lead in the first inning and never let Toronto get back in the game. He’s posted a 2.38 ERA but a 4.80 FIP, with a 1.54 WHIP, and a 1.56 K/BB through 22.2 innings in the second half. He is 1-2 with a 7.43 ERA in three starts against the Rays this season. Key Matchups: Randy Arozarena (2-8, HR, 2 RBI), Christian Bethancourt (1-2), Ji-Man Choi (2-5, BB), Francisco Mejía (3-5, HR, RBI), David Peralta (7-25, 2 2B, HR, 5 RBI, 6 BB), Luke Raley (1-4)

You can read about the series in our preview, while the starting lineup and Noteworthiness are below.

Rays 8/14/22 Starting Lineup

  1. Choi 1B
  2. Díaz 3B
  3. Arozarena DH
  4. Peralta LF
  5. Mejía C
  6. Chang 2B
  7. Raley RF
  8. Siri CF
  9. Walls SS


— JT Chargois threw a scoreless inning in a rehab appearance for Triple-A Durham yesterday. Manuel Margot went 1-for-4 in the same contest and played seven innings in right field, while Harold Ramirez will join the Triple-A squad on Sunday. Margot is eligible to come off the IL on August 20th, and Ramirez could be ready around that time, too.