What looked like just another interleague matchup for Tampa Bay this week may ultimately be reflected on as a turning point in the Rays’ push for the postseason.
The Rays clobbered the St. Louis Cardinals 11-3 on Wednesday behind an 18-hit attack and will look to complete a three-game sweep in the matinee series finale on Thursday in St. Petersburg, Fla.
Following Tampa Bay’s stunning 4-2 win on Taylor Walls’ two-out, three-run, walk-off homer in the 10th inning on Tuesday, the Rays put up season bests in runs, hits (18) and doubles (seven) in the rematch. The double total was one shy of tying the franchise record.
Leadoff hitter Manuel Margot went 4-for-5, and Randy Arozarena (four RBIs) and Ji-Man Choi each produced three hits — 10 between the trio, outdistancing the Cardinals’ total of eight.
“I was very happy for the way I performed and the way the team performed,” said Arozarena, who broke into the majors with the Cardinals in 2019. “We all came out and attacked early.”
By moving their home record to 20-13, the Rays joined the New York Yankees (23-7) as the only two teams in baseball with 20 home victories.
St. Louis manager Oliver Marmol saw few bright spots in the lopsided loss, though one was the 2-for-4, three-RBI showing by outfielder Tyler O’Neill, who hit a solo homer.
“It’s a positive, for sure,” Marmol said of O’Neill, who returned to the lineup Tuesday after missing three weeks due to a shoulder injury. “Timing-wise, he looks good. He’s taking some good swings. He’s looking a lot better.”
Cardinals All-Star catcher Yadier Molina tossed a scoreless frame and even recorded a strikeout of pinch hitter Isaac Paredes. He was the only one of the five St. Louis pitchers not to surrender a run.
The Cardinals lost their first series since dropping three of four games to the New York Mets in mid-May.
St. Louis was without third baseman Nolan Arenado, who sat out a day after being plunked on the right knee by a pitch. He is expected to return to action Thursday.
Hoping to salvage a game in the series, Marmol will send out Miles Mikolas (4-3, 3.02 ERA). A Florida native from Jupiter, where St. Louis has its spring training home, Mikolas will be making his second start against the Rays but first as a Cardinal.
At home for the Texas Rangers on Aug. 13, 2014, Mikolas was rocked by Tampa Bay for 10 runs on nine hits over six-plus innings.
The Rays will counter Mikolas with Shane McClanahan (6-2, 2.10 ERA).
Mikolas is proving to be a strong replacement in the No. 1 rotation spot during the absence of Tyler Glasnow, who is rehabbing from Tommy John surgery and likely won’t pitch this year.
Not only has McClanahan posted ace-like numbers in his sophomore campaign, but he has been at the top of his game of late.
In five May starts, the left-hander went 4-0 with a 1.15 ERA over 31 1/3 innings. He allowed four runs on 21 hits while whiffing 39 and walking five.
A rare strikeout artist who uses off-speed offerings as his swing-and-miss pitches, McClanahan shut down opposing batters in May to the tune of a .189 average.
He opened June with a Friday win over the Chicago White Sox, allowing two runs on six hits and no walks in six innings. McClanahan struck out eight.
Overall this season, batters are hitting .201 with eight home runs in 247 plate appearances against McClanahan, who will be facing the Cardinals for the first time in his career.
–Field Level Media