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Rays Take 1-0 Series Lead By Shutting Out Red Sox

photo: Will Vragovic/Tampa Bay Rays

Shane McClanahan and four relievers combined to throw a six-hit shutout, and Nelson Cruz and Randy Arozarena each homered as the Tampa Bay Rays took the first game of the best-of-five American League Division Series from the Boston Red Sox with a 5-0 victory Thursday night at Tropicana Field.

Tampa Bay wasted no time in going after Red Sox starter Eduardo Rodriguez, as Arozarena drew a leadoff walk, then scored from first on the first of Wander Franco‘s two doubles on the night.  Franco moved to third on a flyout by Cruz and made it 2-0 by scoring on an infield hit by Yandy Diaz.

Cruz extended the lead to 3-0 in the third with a solo shot off Nick Pivetta, who took over to start the inning, that hit the C ring catwalk in left for his first home run of the postseason.

McClanahan allowed five hits but no runs in his five innings of work, striking out three and not walking a batter in his 82-pitch performance.

Arozarena extended the advantage to 4-0 with his first homer of the playoffs in the fifth, also off Pivetta.

Tampa Bay added their final run in the seventh in what looked like a rehash of the first inning as Arozarena walked again, this time with two out, and Franco followed with a double moving him to third base.  Alex Cora then brought in Josh Taylor to face Brandon Lowe left-on-left, which allowed Arozarena to pull off a straight steal of the plate, the first in a postseason game since 2016.

The Rays got scoreless innings of relief from both JT Chargois and David RobertsonJ.P. Feyereisen worked out of a bases loaded jam in the eighth by striking out Rafael Devers and getting Hunter Renfroe to pop out, then finished things off with a scoreless ninth.

Tampa Bay can push Boston to the brink of elimination with a win Friday in game 2 of the ALDS.  Shane Baz (2-0, 2.03 ERA in 2021) will get the start, taking on Chris Sale (5-1, 3.16 ERA in 2021).  First pitch is scheduled for 7:07.

Written By

Steve Carney is the founder and publisher of St. Pete Nine. One of the people most associated with baseball coverage in Tampa Bay, he spent 13 seasons covering the Rays for flagship radio station WDAE, first as producer of Rays Radio broadcasts, then as beat reporter beginning in 2011. He likes new analytics and aged bourbon, and is the owner of one of the ugliest knuckleballs ever witnessed by baseball scouts.

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