ST. PETERSBURG – Rays left-hander Shane McClanahan was dealing. He was making hitters swing and miss. He was dominating.
And then, essentially on one pitch, his great outing came apart.
On an afternoon in which he set a career high with 11 strikeouts, McClanahan might have pitched to one batter too many Saturday at Tropicana Field. Despite having thrown 85 pitches, he came out for the sixth inning and surrendered a two-run home that sparked the Twins’ 9-1 victory over the Rays before 18,846.
Was there a debate over whether to send McClanahan out for the sixth?
“No,” said Rays manager Kevin Cash.
There was no doubt in McClanahan’s mind, either.
“That’s one thing I always pride myself on,” he said. “No matter what, I want that ball. I’ll fight for that ball. No, never a doubt. ”
The Minnesota Twins snapped the Tampa Bay Rays’ three-game winning streak with a 9-1 victory Saturday at Tropicana Field.
Locked in a 1-1 tie, McClanahan surrendered an infield single to Carlos Correa to lead off the sixth. McClanahan then went 2-0 to Kyle Garlick before hanging a slider. Garlick slammed it (exit velocity: 109.3 mph) into the left-field seats for a two-run homer and a 3-1 lead the Twins wouldn’t lose.
With the gunshot sound of Garlick’s homer still ringing in everyone’s ears, Cash trotted out of the dugout to remove McClanahan. It was the second homer of the game for Garlick, who added a broken-bat, bloop RBI single (against the shift) over the head of second baseman Brandon Lowe in the seventh.
“Ultimately, it doesn’t matter how many strikeouts I had,” McClanahan said. “We want to win the ballgame. We were in a spot to win, and I’ve got to do better.
“That’s the frustrating thing about baseball. You feel so good out there, making 99 percent of the pitches you want to make, but sometimes there’s one pitch you wish you had back. “
McClanahan (1-2), whose 11 strikeouts came against the first 18 batters he faced, said he felt he had the proper approach, even against Garlick, who also homered off him in the first inning (exit velocity: 110.2 mph).
“Attack, get ahead… that’s what I want to do,” said McClanahan, a USF product. “Actually, I don’t think it was a bad pitch (to Garlick in the first inning). Kudos to him. Next at-bat, I fell behind and didn’t want to walk him, and he hammered that. He’s a good hitter. He’s a professional hitter, clearly. I’ve just got to do a better job of executing some pitches. “
Other than the slider to Garlick, McClanahan did just that.
“Everything was really good,” Cash said. “He’s kind of mirrored, or followed, start to start, where all the pitches are mixing really well. He’s getting a ton of swing-and-miss. I’m very encouraged with Shane’s performance. ”
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Third baseman Taylor Walls, who accounted for the Rays’ only run with a second-inning homer, said it’s fun to play behind McClanahan.
“Sometimes, I feel like the guys don’t even have a chance to put it in play,” Walls said. ‘It’s like,’ Why do I even need my glove? ‘ He was unbelievable (Saturday). It’s unfortunate we couldn’t put more runs up for him early. “
The Rays had few answers offensively, managing just four hits against five Twins pitchers. Former Rays ace Chris Archer started for the Twins, going four innings and stranding three runners in scoring position.
With the Rays stymied, the Twins poured it on in the late innings, getting seven hits during a four-run ninth.
“You’re kind of just ready for the thing to speed up and get over with once they separated it,” Cash said. “The Twins’ pitching… they did a nice job. We had minimal opportunities to really get anything going, and we just didn’t. “
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