Rays’ offense (really) leads to Sweep of Jays

by Gary Shelton on July 3, 2022

in general

Sunday, 4 a.m.

Of all the teams in the major leagues, who would have picked this one to bring the fireworks to the picnic?

The Tampa Bay Rays, previously known as the Hitless Wonders, as the Black Hole of the American League, turned into hitting creatures in sweeping a doubleheader from the Toronto Blue Jays Saturday. They won 6-2 and 11-5, scoring 17 runs on 27 hits (five of them home runs) after sleepwalking through several games.

“That was an exciting day," said Rays' manager Kevin Cash. "We

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wanted to find a way to bounce back. We did. Toronto’s  a good club. We’ve got a good club. We’re young and we weren’t doing what maybe we were capable of. It all came together for us during the course of a long day."

Asked what got into his hitters, Cash smiled.

"Maybe their inner Paredes," he said, referring to Isaac Paredes, who homered in both games.

The Rays came into the day with a three-game losing streak. They were averaging 3.96 runs per game, 26th in the majors and 12th in the American League. The Rays ranked 11th in the American League in average, 8th in RISP average,11th in on-base percentage, 13th in slugging and 10th in homers (68).

Can one day change that? Consider this: Of 18 batters who started for the Rays in the two games, 16 of them had at least one hit. Harold Ramirez had five hits, Paredes, Yandy Diaz and Randy Arozarena had four. Francisco Mejia hit two homers in the second game.

And the pitching? In the first game, it was Shane McClanahan who stopped the team's slump

With his team riding a four-game losing streak, with his offense flailing helplessly, McClanahan called a cease to all the negative energy of the Rays. After a slow start, he dominated the Toronto Blue Jays and, again, all was good with the Rays.

McClanahan, now 9-3, went seven innings, allowed only three hits and only one run in shutting down the potent Jays' offense. McClanahan gave up two hits and the run to the first three batters he faced, then went on to strike out 10 in getting the win.

"He’s a stud," Cash said. "He’s going against a team that doesn’t strike out much. I’m so impressed with the way Mac goes about his business. He just stays locked in. IT felt like he got better as the game went on."

The Rays' offense finally woke up with 13 hits -- including a hit by everyone in the lineup. The Black Hole that is the bottom of the order (entering the game, Rene Pinto was hitting .167, Taylor Walls was hitting .164 and Josh Lowe was hitting .188. In the first game, however, they collected four hits and two RBI.

In the second game, the Rays had 14 hits and built an 11-2 lead.

Drew Rasmussen started the second game in a return from the injury list. He went 4 2/3 innings before he was pulled because of a pitch count.

"It was encouraging," Cash said. "These guys have been grinding through it. We’ve said it for too long now."

The Rays and Blue Jays will play at 1:37 p.m. today at the Rogers Centre. Shane Baz will start of the Rays against Ross Stripling.


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