Nifty slide by Arozarena leads to Rays’ win

by Gary Shelton on June 27, 2022

in general

Monday, 3 a.m.

Shane McClanahan continued to rule the major leagues. Isaac Paredes continued to own the week.

For the Tampa Bay Rays, however, a baseball game came down to a man sliding in the dirt.

It's odd for a slide on a stolen base to be the key part of a game, but Randy Arozarena turned around a game with his contortionist act on the basepaths Sunday. Arozarena, who often runs the bases with the deftness of a runaway stagecoach, found a way to twist around a tag and keep an inning alive in the Rays' 4-2 win over Pittsburgh, a victory that led to a sweep of the Pirates.

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With two men out in the seventh inning, Arozarena seemed to be an easy out as he went into second. But on his head-first slide, he pulled back his left arm and reached around the tag of shortstop Diego Castillo with his right, beating the tag.

From there, the Rays scored three runs on hits by Ji-Man Choi, Josh Lowe and, of course, Paredes to give Shane McClanahan his eighth win of the year.

"You’ve got to be some kind of athlete to pull that off," Rays' manager Kevin Cash said. "Going full speed into a base head first and to have the wherewithal to make that last-second adjustment. We know he can do things special on the bases. His speed is part of his game and we’re going to use that."

Said Arozarena: "I realized I didn't get the greatest jump.  When I was stealing, I realized the ball got there before I did. So when I slid, I knew I had to change my movement a little bit to try to be safe."

The final run of the outburst was driven in by Paredes, who has had a terrific week. In his last six games, he's hitting .579 with two doubles, five homers and nine RBI. Six games ago, Paredes was hitting .177. Now, he's at .255.

“I don’t know when player of the week voting comes out, but he’s got to be at the top of somebody’s list," Cash said. “He's been pretty spectacular . He’s seeing the ball really well. I'm very impressed with his presence, his calmness in the box and the confidence he’s shown."

McClanahan took over the major league in strikeouts with 10 in his seven-inning, one run performance. He now has 123 strikeouts on the season compared to only 16 walks.

The Rays are off today, then open a series at Tropicana Field Tuesday night at 7:10 p.m. against Milwaukee. Shane Baz will start for the Rays against Brandon Woodruff. 

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