More than 27,000 fans watched big Randy the Rays take down the Red Sox on Thursday. (Photo Credit: Tampa Bay Rays)

Shane McClanahan posted five scoreless innings, while playoff Randy Arozarena arrived in spades on Thursday, as the Tampa Bay Rays defeated the Boston Red Sox in the first game of the 2021 ALDS, 5-0.

Shane McClanahan got the start and allowed runners in four of the five innings in which he worked, yet the left-hander held the Red Sox to 0-for-4 with runners in scoring position and 1-for-10 with runners on base. McClanahan recorded three strikeouts, all in the first inning, as he worked around a Kyle Schwarber infield hit and a stolen base. His biggest jam came in the second inning after former Ray, Hunter Renfroe, lined a Stantonian single off the left-field wall. Brandon Lowe also misplayed Alex Verdugo’s potential double-play ball to put two on with none out. Even so, Bobby Dalbec grounded into a 4-6-3 double play before Christian Vazquez flew out to shallow center to end the threat. All told, McClanahan scattered five hits and did not issue a walk on 82 pitches (55 strikes, 67% strike rate).

Meanwhile, Tampa Bay — or as FS1 calls them, Tamba Bay — took the lead two batters into the contest against left-hander Eduardo Rodriguez. Randy Arozarena walked then scored all the way from first on Wander Franco’s line-drive double to center which Kiké Hernández bobbled. After Nelson Cruz flew out to deep left-center, allowing Franco to move into third, Yandy Díaz beat out a two-out infield hit to third for a lead they’d never relinquish.

After one trip through the order, 41 pitches, and just 1.2 innings of work, Rodriguez was lifted in favor of Garrett Richards, who finished the second inning.

Enter Nick Pivetta, who went the next 4.2 frames.

In the third inning, Nelson Cruz blasted a 406-foot homer off the C-ring in left-center — the 18th postseason homer of his career.

Then in the fifth inning, Arozarena blasted a no-doubter to left for a four-run advantage. It was his 11 postseason homer in 21 postseason games (extending back to 2020).

Pivetta was chased in the seventh inning after he allowed a two-out walk to Arozarena and a double to left to Franco putting runners in scoring position. Enter Josh Taylor, who took the mound to face Brandon Lowe. The Rays’ second baseman fell behind 1-2 when Arozarena took a big lead off third and broke for home as Taylor came set. The left-hander stepped off and fired home, but it wasn’t even close. By the time Christian Vázquez caught the ball, big RAAAAAAAANDY had already slid in safely for the first successful steal of home in the playoffs since Javier Báez did so in Game 1 of the 2016 NLDS. Arozarena has become the first player in postseason history to hit a homer and steal home in the same game.

J.T. Chargois worked around hit by coaxing a double-play ball — facing the minimum in the sixth inning.

David Robertson put together a perfect seventh inning in what could have been his best outing as a Ray.

Right-hander J.P. Feyereisen came on for the eighth inning as Boston rallied. Christian Arroyo and Kyle Schwarber hit back-to-back singles to right before Xander Bogaerts lifted a fly ball into shallow center that both Franco and Kevin Kiermaier lost in the dome. It fell in for a bloop single, loading the bases. Yet, Rafael Devers struck out, and Renfroe popped out to end the threat. Feyereisen then worked a perfect ninth to lock down Tampa Bay’s first postseason win of the season.

THE NEW WHAT NEXT

Shane Baz (2-0, 2.03 ERA) will get the start in the second game of the ALDS, pitching opposite of Chris Sale (5-1, 3.16 ERA).

Shane Baz gave up one run on a hit and two walks across 2.2 innings. He struck out four. With Tampa Bay already having the best record in the American League locked up, Kevin Cash elected to give Baz some extra rest ahead of the playoffs — a sign that right-hander will play a big part in Tampa Bay’s postseason pitching plans. Baz threw 51 pitches (28 strikes, 55% strike rate) before exiting, and he wrapped up the regular season with a 2.03 ERA and a 4.06 FIP, with a 6.00 K/BB through 13.1 frames.

Chris Sale surrendered two runs on four hits and three walks with seven strikeouts in 2.1 innings against the Nationals on Sunday. Alex Cora was quick to give Sale the quick hook, for the second consecutive start, once he pitched into a jam in the third inning. The southpaw ended the regular season with a 3.16 ERA and a 3.69 FIP, with a 1.34 WHIP, and 4.33 K/BB in 42.2 innings across nine starts. Sale is 0-0 with a 2.79 ERA in two starts against Rays this season, however, all that glitters is not gold — in his second turn against Tampa Bay, he gave up five runs (one earned) on 10 hits in 3.2 innings of work. In that outing, the Rays tagged the left-hander for four fourth-inning runs which later were deemed unearned. Key Matchups: Nelson Cruz (12-35, 3B, 2 HR, 5 RBI, 2 BB), Yandy Díaz (6-12, 2 2B, 3B, 3 RBI, BB), Wander Franco (4-6, 3B, HR, 2 RBI), Kevin Kiermaier (6-20, HR, 3 RBI, BB), Manuel Margot (3-5)

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

RAYS 10/8/21 STARTING LINEUP

  1. Arozarena LF
  2. Franco SS
  3. Lowe 2B
  4. Cruz DH
  5. Díaz 3B
  6. Luplow 1B
  7. Margot RF
  8. Zunino C
  9. Kiermaier CF
  10. Baz RHP

NOTEWORTHINESS

— On the night, Rays’ pitchers did not walk a batter or allow an extra-base hit.

— As per Stats LLC, Wander Franco became the first player in major league history to have multiple extra-base hits in both his regular-season debut (2B and HR on June 22 vs. BOS) and his postseason debut.

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