ST. PETERSBURG — Shane McClanahan was sharp in his return to the rotation only to be a hard-luck loser on Sunday afternoon.
The Tigers got solo home runs from Eric Haase in the fourth inning and Dustin Garneau in the seventh, which proved to be enough in downing the Rays, 2-0, at Tropicana Field.
The Rays had only five hits, all singles. Three of them were by Mike Zunino.
The Rays’ magic number for clinching the American League East remains at six. With the Yankees losing to the Indians, the number for clinching a playoff spot was reduced to three.
McClanahan (9-6) returned from a 10-day stint on the IL (back) and threw five innings and 64 pitches in his 23rd start this season. The USF product was very sharp in allowing two hits, including Haase’s homer to account for the only run he allowed. He struck out seven and walked two.
“I felt good,” said the southpaw. “I had 10 days of rest and I think that did my body good. I felt out of sync the first couple of innings, but once I cleaned up those issues I threw the ball well.”
Kevin Cash agreed.
“He threw the ball really well,” said the Rays’ manager. “Good to have him back. We missed him for the 10 days and one start that he missed. No issues with his back, which was a good sign.”
The Rays could not solve Wily Peralta, who threw a season-high 100 pitches while not allowing a run in his seven innings of work.
It looked like the Rays might break through in the eighth when they had runners on the corners with two outs. Jason Foley, who relieved Derek Holland and could not find the plate having uncorked two wild pitches before walking Nelson Cruz, fell behind Ji-Man Choi. Kevin Kiermaier, pinch running for Cruz, was thrown out attempting to steal to end the inning.
“If KK feels he has a chance, we are going to trust his decision making,” said Cash. “The catcher (Garneau) made a tremendous throw. Unfortunate with how it happened, but I’m okay with everything that took place.”
Scott Funkhouser came on in the ninth for Detroit and recorded his first career save.
The Blue Jays, in third place in the AL East and 7.5 games behind the Rays while holding on to the second wild card spot, visit the Trop on Monday night for the first of three games. Shane Baz will make his MLB debut when he takes the mound for Tampa Bay.