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Rays’ Shane McClanahan faces Blue Jays again

Tampa Bay Rays left-hander Shane McClanahan will face the same team in consecutive starts for the first time in his career Friday night in the opener of a three-game series against the visiting Toronto Blue Jays.

The rookie took the loss against the Blue Jays in Buffalo on Saturday, allowing three runs, three hits and two walks in 5 1/3 innings.

McClanahan (3-3, 4.18 ERA) also faced Toronto on May 22, allowing one run, four hits and two walks in five innings in Dunedin, Fla. He did not factor in the decision in the Rays’ 3-1 victory.

“That’s a good question,” McClanahan said, when asked if he will need to change anything. “Even though this is the third time of facing them, second time (in a row), you’re going to face teams in your division quite a bit throughout the year.

“So it’s up to you to ultimately stick to the game plan and execute pitches. Try not to change too much and just be an overall complete pitcher — not become fastball-oriented, curve-oriented or whatever, just have a good mix of the pitches and try to keep them off balance.”

McClanahan, 24, faced the Oakland Athletics twice in three starts between April 29 and May 9, with little difference. He gave up two and three runs respectively as he went four innings each time.

“I feel like I’m in a good spot,” he said. “I feel like I’ve learned each day, working hard to obviously improve.”

Toronto took two of three from Tampa Bay last weekend. Tampa Bay leads the season series 6-4.

The Blue Jays, whose game in Baltimore against the Orioles was rained out Thursday, will start rookie right-hander Alek Manoah (2-0, 2.70).

Manoah defeated the Rays on July 2, allowing no runs and three hits and striking out a career-best 10 in seven innings. He struck out a franchise-record seven straight during that start.

Manoah also opposed the same team in consecutive starts when he faced Baltimore, June 19 and 25; he did better in the second start, allowing one unearned run in six innings. In the first start against Baltimore, he allowed five runs and four home runs before his ejection in the fourth inning for hitting a batter with a pitch.

The Rays ended a five-game losing streak on Sunday, then swept a three-game home series from the Cleveland Indians. They had Thursday off.

Toronto reliever Trevor Richards, who pitched a perfect inning Wednesday at Baltimore after being acquired from the Milwaukee Brewers, will be returning to familiar territory in this series.

He started the season with Tampa Bay before being traded to Milwaukee on May 21. The Rays had obtained him via trade from the Miami Marlins on July 31, 2019.

Richards said Tampa Bay’s pitching philosophy helped him.

“In Miami, I felt like I was trying to essentially pitch to a scouting report, pitch to small locations and stuff like that,” Richards said. “I got to Tampa and they’re like, ‘You don’t have to do that. Just attack hitters, go after them and let yourself play.’ They have a certain way of making you understand that and realize that gets outs. It helps a lot of guys. It definitely helped me, and it kind of changed my career.”

Rays outfielder Manuel Margot (left hamstring strain) who will miss two to three weeks.

–Field Level Media