Day full of ups and downs ends in defeat for Rays

July 2nd, 2023

SEATTLE -- Things started out well for the Rays on Saturday as star left fielder Randy Arozarena was chosen to participate in next week’s T-MHome Run Derby during the All-Star break. But the day got continually worse for the Rays as the team placed early Cy Young candidate Shane McClanahan on the 15-day injured list before ultimately ending with an 8-3 loss to the Mariners at T-Mobile Park.

Much like the series opener, Tampa Bay found itself in an early hole -- this time down 2-0 after three innings -- and managed to knot things up later on. Unlike Friday, however, the Rays’ comeback attempt fell short as their bats didn’t find the same spark.

“That’s what baseball is, right?” said first baseman Luke Raley, whose two-run homer in the top of the sixth tied things up for Tampa Bay. “You just never know what you’re going to get every time you walk up to the plate. Every start of a new inning, it’s different. Things can change in a hurry.”

Despite picking up the loss, starter Tyler Glasnow had a solid showing on the mound. While he surrendered three runs on seven hits and one walk over 5 2/3 innings, he racked up 11 strikeouts -- one shy of his season high, which he set in his previous start on Tuesday.

“Glasnow threw the ball really, really well for us,” Rays manager Kevin Cash said. “He gave us every opportunity to keep it at 2-0 and buy a little bit of time.

“We couldn’t get much going on, but Yandy [Díaz] got on base with a double and Raley came up with a big home run to tie it.”

The Rays (57-29) lost the lead for good in the bottom of the sixth when Seattle left fielder Jarred Kelenic hit a single just past the glove of shortstop Wander Franco.

“‘Glas’ made a good pitch and Kelenic hit a nice ball,” Raley said. “It happens. It’s baseball."

Tampa Bay’s deficit swelled to 6-2 before the team plated another run in the top of the eighth. After what happened on Friday -- when the Rays scored eight runs in the eighth inning -- there was no reason for them to quit.

“I don’t feel that momentum ever gets taken from this team,” Raley said. “We know we’re never out of a game. We never give in.”

The Rays had a chance to cut into the Mariners’ lead in the eighth. After Franco hit an RBI single up the middle to send Christian Bethancourt home from third, Tampa Bay had runners at first and second with one out.

Next up to the plate was Raley.

“We had the right guys up,” Cash said. “Wander comes up, smokes the ball up the middle, and with Raley swinging the bat, we have a lot of confidence with him up there.”

Raley made solid contact and then the ball bounced right to Seattle shortstop J.P. Crawford, who stepped on second and threw out Raley at first for the double play.

“I felt like I hit a good ball,” Raley said. “But I hit it right at him -- right into a double play. That kind of took the wind right out of our sails right there. That stinks, but we move on.”

The Rays have one more game against Seattle on Sunday before returning home to host the Phillies and Braves before the All-Star break. Tampa Bay and Atlanta (55-27) have been jockeying for the best record in the Majors for much of the season.

One thing is certain: McClanahan will not be playing in either of those series -- or the All-Star Game -- as the Rays will be taking caution with regard to his injury.

“I really would not put any of our thoughts into any All-Star anything,” Cash said before Saturday’s game. “We want our players to, if they are recognized and good enough to be All-Stars, that's a totally separate discussion. We've got to prioritize his health above everything.”

While no player wants to be on the injured list, the stalwart hurler was prepared for the decision.

“If I have to go on the IL, I think this is probably the best time for it,” McClanahan said after Friday’s game. “I want to come back and be me, not be a shell of myself. I want to do the things I know I can do and not worry about my back.”