Surging Rays look to stay hot vs. Blue Jays

MLB Baseball

When the Tampa Bay Rays travel half an hour up the road from their home ballpark to Dunedin on Saturday, they will trot out something new for the host Toronto Blue Jays.

In the second game of a four-game series, the Rays will send Shane McClanahan to the mound for his first appearance against Toronto and just the fifth start of his rookie campaign.

Before its eighth straight win late Friday night — 9-7 in 12 innings via Francisco Mejia’s grand slam — Tampa Bay made news in the afternoon when it dealt shortstop Willy Adames and reliever Trevor Richards to the Milwaukee Brewers for right-handed relievers Drew Rasmussen and J.P. Feyereisen.

Mired in a difficult 2021, Adames was hitting .197 with five homers and 15 RBIs through 41 games and had become expendable with infielders Wander Franco, Vidal Brujan and Taylor Walls all impressing at Triple-A affiliate Durham.

“We’ve got three switch-hitting infielders, plus (third baseman) Kevin Padlo. We’ve got a lot of talented players in Durham,” Rays general manager Erik Neander said. “That certainly factored into it.”

Franco, a 20-year-old shortstop, is the top-rated prospect in the minors, while middle infielder Brujan (23) is No. 40 and shortstop Walls (24) is No. 7 within the organization, according to MLB Pipeline.

However, Florida State alum Walls will get the first shot and be called up for Saturday’s contest. Manager Kevin Cash said the shortstop will play right away and often.

McClanahan (1-0, 4.67 ERA) will be right back out there after what was technically the roughest start of his young career in the majors last weekend but earned the left-hander his first win.

Against the New York Mets last Saturday, he surrendered four runs, six hits and two homers in 5 1/3 innings but picked up the victory in a 12-5 win.

With Friday’s win, Tampa Bay improved to 35-13 (.735) on the road since Aug. 10, 2020 — the majors’ best mark.

Toronto manager Charlie Montoyo announced that Robbie Ray (2-1, 3.79) would take the ball and make his eighth start of the season — the second against Tampa Bay — on Saturday.

Ray yielded three runs, six hits and two homers in a six-inning effort on April 24 in St. Petersburg, Fla. Mike Zunino and Mike Brosseau hit long shots for Tampa Bay, which handed Ray his only defeat this season.

In four of his past five starts totaling 30 1/3 innings, Ray has whiffed nine or more batters in each game. He’s issued just one walk.

Over three career starts against Tampa Bay, the Brentwood, Tenn., native is 0-1 with a 4.50 ERA in 16 innings. The opposition has produced 18 hits and three homers to the tune of a .273 batting average.

Montoyo said Cavan Biggio, who pinch hit in the 11th inning, has been playing with a sore neck that is hindering his swinging. The club isn’t sure if he will land on the injured list.

“We’ll see how it goes. Right now, he’s day-to-day,” Montoyo said.

Lourdes Gurriel Jr. (bruised leg) missed his second consecutive game but took batting practice and was available to hit.

–Field Level Media

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