Shane McClanahan truly bailed out a Rays defense that erred multiple times behind him on Tuesday. (Photo Credit: Tampa Bay Rays)

After a 9-3, bounce-back win over Baltimore on Tuesday, the Tampa Bay Rays look for a series win this afternoon at the Trop.

At 56-39 on the season, Tampa Bay enters play 1.0 game back of the Red Sox in the division, with an opportunity to get back to 18 games over .500. They are 22-6 over in their last 28 home games, and 7-1 against the Orioles this season.

Shane McClanahan got the start Tuesday and allowed one run on four hits and a walk over five innings. He struck out seven. The rookie was sharp, tossing 65 of 93 pitches for strikes (70% strike rate). A second-inning double by Anthony Santander provided the only loud contact off McClanahan on the night, while a third-inning double play erased a Ji-Man Choi gaffe. While he didn’t complete six innings, he was forced to get four outs on more than one occasion because the defense committed two errors behind the left-hander and four overall — the most for the Rays in a game in more than two seasons, and the most at home in more than four. McClanahan hasn’t allowed more than three earned runs in an outing since June 2 and carries a 3.88 ERA and a 3.64 FIP, with a 1.25 WHIP and 3.55 K/BB through 65 innings on the season.

Meanwhile, it would appear that Randy Arozarena is starting to get toasty. Big RAAAAAAAANDY went 2-4 with a pair of runs and an RBI last night.

After recording two hits on Monday, Arozarena doubled and homered off left-hander John Means within the first three innings of Tuesday’s contest.

I feel good. And I’m very thankful that I’m able to have the results that I have in the last couple of days. But what I’m mostly happy about is that we got the win and we got the victory. … And whatever I’ve got to do to help the team win, I’m going to try and do it.

— Randy Arozarena, through interpreter Manny Navarro

Since the All-Star Break Arozarena’s bat speed has improved, and because of it, he wrapped four hits at +104 mph over the last two contests. He’s worked with Rays’ hitting coach Chad Mottola to narrow his stance, which appears to have positively affected the slugger.

All told, the Rays plated nine runs on 10 hits including five extra-base hits (two doubles, a triple, and three home runs).

Yandy Díaz, who exited Monday’s contest due to neck spasms — and was a late scratch last night — is expected to remain out of the lineup for a second consecutive game. Rays’ skipper Kevin Cash mentioned that he should be back on Thursday, in Cleveland, along with Mike Zunino (left hip flexor tightness). Zunino, however, is available off the bench.

The New What Next

Michael Wacha (2-2, 5.14 ERA) will get the start Wednesday, pitching opposite of Keegan Akin (0-5, 8.19 ERA).

Michael Wacha got the start Friday and allowed four runs on five hits and two walks while striking out five across four innings. Wacha held Atlanta scoreless for the first three innings but allowed two home runs in the third to give them a 3-2 lead. The right-hander was pulled in the fifth inning after he surrendered a leadoff single which came around to score when Freddie Freeman launched a two-run homer against J.P. Feyereisen, who took over for Wacha in relief. Wacha has been quite unpredictable this season; over his last four outings, he’s had two in which he’s allowed one run or less and two in which he’s allowed at least four runs. Wacha stands at a 5.14 ERA and a 4.90 FIP, with a 1.35 WHIP, and a 3.06 K/BB over 61.1 innings on the season. He is 0-0 with a 4.50 ERA in a two-inning opener against Baltimore this season.

Keegan Akin completed just three innings and allowed six runs on eight hits and three walks while striking out two against the Royals in his last turn on the mound. The Royals put at least one run on the board in each of Akin’s three frames, and they crossed the plate four times in a big second inning. The left-hander needed 74 pitches to retire nine batters, and he’s given up at least four earned runs in each of his past seven outings. Akin maintains an 8.19 ERA and a 4.93 FIP, with a 1.80 WHIP, and a 2.30 K/BB across 48.1 innings on the season. He has allowed a total of five runs in seven innings (two appearances) against the Rays this season. Key Matchups: Randy Arozarena (2-3), Ji-Man Choi (1-1, RBI), Kevin Kiermaier (1-4), Brandon Lowe (1-3, HR, 3 RBI), Joey Wendle (1-2), Mike Zunino (1-2)

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

Rays 7/21/21 Starting Lineup

  1. Arozarena LF
  2. Bruján 2B
  3. Meadows DH
  4. Franco SS
  5. B. Lowe RF
  6. Choi 1B
  7. Mejía C
  8. Wendle 3B
  9. Phillips CF
  10. Wacha RHP

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