MLB-best Rays lose ace McClanahan to back injury, and game 6-5 to lowly Royals

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McClanahan exits with back stiffness in Rays loss to Royals
(AP Photo/Chris O'Meara)
McClanahan exits with back stiffness in Rays loss to Royals
(AP Photo/Chris O’Meara)

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (AP) — The Tampa Bay Rays’ biggest loss came long before a rare defeat.

The major league-leading Rays lost ace Shane McClanahan to mid-back tightness in a 6-5 loss to the lowly Kansas City Royals on Thursday night.

Tampa Bay manager Kevin Cash said there were no plans for additional tests.

“I don’t want to speculate, it’s still pretty early, but the leading notion is we don’t think it’s anything severe,” McClanahan said, “Just maybe more of a precautionary move just to maybe limit whatever it is.”

McClanahan was looking to become the majors’ first 12-game winner of the year before leaving with two outs in the fourth. The left-hander, 11-1 this season, gave up two runs, four hits and two walks in a 66-pitch outing.

“It was something he felt before his last start and he kind of managed it really well,” Cash said. “The way the ball was coming out (tonight) I think we was favoring it a little bit more. In those moments we need to err on the side of caution.”

Maikel Garcia drew a walk from Pete Fairbanks (0-2) to start the ninth, then stole second and third. After Fairbanks got a pair of strikeouts, Garcia scored on MJ Melendez’s infield single down the first-base line to put the Royals ahead 6-5. The Royals stole seven bases overall.

Aroldis Chapman (3-2) struck out the side during a perfect eighth, topping out at 102.6 mph. Scott Barlow got three outs for his ninth save.

Kansas City took a 3-2 lead in the seventh on Drew Waters’ solo homer and his two-run eighth-inning single off Jason Adam tied it at 5.

“(My) smile comes just from beating the Tampa Bay Rays,” said Waters, who entered hitting .167. “Everyone knows the type team they are, and the quality that they bring every night top to bottom. As a team I thought we played really well, and that’s what we’re capable of.”

Francisco Mejía hit a homer leading the seventh and Randy Arozarena had a two-run single as Tampa Bay went up 5-3. Arozarena also had an RBI single during a two-run first and has 53 RBIs.

The Rays (52-26) dropped to 32-9 at home. Kansas City has the second-worst record in the majors at 21-54.

Cash announced before the game that shortstop Wander Franco would not play at least Thursday and Friday games due to how he has handled frustrating situations this season.

Former Tampa Bay coach Matt Quatraro faced his old team for the first time as the Royals manager.

GREAT BEGINNING

Royals LHP Austin Cox entered with one out in the second and didn’t allow a hit to his first 11 batters to extend his run of not giving one up to begin his career to 39. The stretch, ended by Yandy Díaz’s single in the fifth, is the longest since 1961, according to the Elias Sports Bureau. He recorded 34 outs, walked four and one batter reached on error.

“It’s awesome.” Cox said.

Family and friends made the trip from Georgia for the game.

TRAINERS ROOM

Royals: LHP Amir Garrett (left elbow) walked three and struck out one in two-thirds of an ininng in his first game with Triple-A Omaha. … LHP Ryan Yarbrough (facial fractures), who was hit by a 106.2 mph ball off the bat of Oakland’s Ryan Noda on May 7, will make his second rehab start Saturday for Omaha. … 1B Vinnie Pasquantino had right shoulder labrum surgery Wednesday and is expected to be ready for 2023.

Rays: 2B Brandon Lowe (herniated disc) will hit against relievers Andrew Kittredge (Tommy John surgery) and Calvin Faucher (right elbow) on Friday. … RF Luke Raley was hit on the hand by a pitch in the first but stayed in the game. Postgame X-rays were negative but he will undergo further tests Friday.

UP NEXT

Rays RHP Zach Eflin (8-3) was set to face RHP Zack Greinke (1-7) on Friday night.

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