It may not have been their strongest performance of the season, but the Tampa Bay Rays are quickly learning that they can grind out victories despite being a little off, as we saw in Monday’s 3-0 whitewashing of the Baltimore Orioles.
Shane McClanahan wasn’t as dominating as we have seen in some of his earlier starts, but he was good enough to pitch the first six innings, allowing four hits and striking out six. The bullpen continued the bend-but-don’t-break mindset that has allowed them to survive without some of the hard-throwing pieces currently on the injured list. The bats went 0 for 5 with runners in scoring position, but got a pair of solo homers and a sacrifice fly. But it was still enough to make sure the team closest in the divisional chase and with the second best record in the American League was never able to even get close to taking the game.
Tampa Bay got on the board in the second inning, when Josh Lowe took the first pitch of the inning from Orioles starter Kyle Gibson and smashed it into the seats in right-center for his eighth home run of the year.
McClanahan would keep it 1-0 through his time on the mound, and the Rays would finally give the pitching staff a little breathing room in the seventh, loading the bases against Bryan Baker before Wander Franco’s fly ball would score Luke Raley to make it 2-0.
Raley would make the game 3-0 in the top of the ninth with a solo shot off Keegan Akin, his eighth of the year.
Tampa Bay can add another series victory to its ledger Tuesday, as Zach Eflin (4-0, 2.25 ERA) takes on Grayson Rodriguez (1-0, 5.46 ERA) in the middle game of the series. First pitch is scheduled for 6:35.