Meadows joins Rays' exclusive 100-RBI club

McClanahan (back) set to rejoin Tampa Bay after stint on IL

September 18th, 2021

ST. PETERSBURG -- When returned to the dugout after hitting a game-tying sacrifice fly in the first inning of Friday's 7-4 win, he was greeted with a big hug from Rays hitting coach Chad Mottola. After the game, the ball he hit to drive in Ji-Man Choi was waiting for him.

That fly ball to right field put Meadows in exclusive company in Rays history, as it was his 100th RBI of the season. Meadows became just the sixth Tampa Bay player to reach triple-digit RBIs in a single season, joining Carlos Peña, Jorge Cantu, Aubrey Huff, Fred McGriff and Evan Longoria. No Rays player had accomplished the feat since Longoria’s 104-RBI season in 2010, a fact that surprised even Meadows when he learned of it after Friday’s game.

“Definitely, it feels good to be up there with a lot of greats and a lot of guys that came before me here,” Meadows said Saturday. “It's definitely a surreal feeling.”

Meadows entered Saturday ranked eighth in the Majors in RBIs. This is only the 11th time in club history a player has reached that number, and it’s meaningful to Meadows for two reasons. First, it’s a testament to how well he has bounced back from a pandemic-shortened, injury-interrupted season last year. Second, he views it as a team accomplishment; he has come to the plate with runners on base and delivered 100 runs to fuel the highest-scoring lineup in the Majors.

“Obviously my No. 1 goal was to stay healthy and continue to do that, and I've been able to do that so far, just day in and day out, [to] work on my craft and do what I need to do,” Meadows said. “Especially being in a certain spot in the order, being able to drive runs in is kind of a big, big part of the game, and especially in big situations. So being able to do that this year has been good.”

Meadows has delivered in plenty of big spots. He has 29 go-ahead RBIs this season, tied for second in the Majors behind Kyle Seager (31), and he leads MLB with 19 game-winning RBIs. Forty-two of his RBIs have either tied the game or given the Rays a lead. And as manager Kevin Cash noted, Meadows has consistently driven in runs despite being part of Tampa Bay’s outfield/designated hitter rotation.

“Getting 100 RBIs is pretty special,” Cash said. “It's pretty special on this team, where we utilize a full roster and you're not sitting out there getting 600 at-bats all the time. We're utilizing the entire roster, so Meadows has made a lot of those big hits count.”

McClanahan ‘ready to go’
Sidelined since Sept. 9 due to lower back tightness, left-hander is scheduled to come off the 10-day injured list to start Sunday’s series finale against the Tigers at Tropicana Field.

McClanahan said he pitched through some stiffness in his back at Fenway Park on Sept. 8, when he worked five scoreless innings in an eventual 2-1 loss to the Red Sox, but he threw a bullpen session on Wednesday and has felt better for the last week or so.

“We've knocked it out, and I feel really good,” McClanahan said. “Ready to go.”

Cash said McClanahan’s quick recovery was “really, really encouraging” and that the rookie shouldn’t have any workload limitations when he takes the mound. McClanahan, the Rays’ top starter since ace Tyler Glasnow was injured in mid-June, still has a few outings to prepare for the postseason.

“It's my one day a week to actually pitch, and I take it very seriously,” McClanahan said. “I've been obviously out for the last 10 days, and no one's hated it more than me. I don't like sitting around doing nothing. I've been trying to be a good cheerleader, but I want to be out there with the guys.”

Minor matters

• Triple-A Durham clinched the Triple-A East championship on Friday with an 8-6 victory over Charlotte. High-A Bowling Green and Low-A Charleston, two other Rays affiliates, have also clinched playoff berths. The Rookie-level Florida Complex League Rays entered Saturday leading the FCL South with a 41-15 record.

• Overall, the Rays finished Friday with the highest organizational winning percentage (.619) in the Minors. Tampa Bay’s affiliates are 383-236 on the year. The Yankees rank second with a 363-246 (.596) organizational record.