Shane McClanahan Fans Five In Regular Season Debut; Rays Fall To Oakland

Shane McClanahan went four innings in his MLB regular season debut at Tropicana Field on Thursday. (Credit: Tampa Bay Rays)

ST. PETERSBURG — University of South Florida product Shane McClanahan made his MLB regular season debut Thursday afternoon at Tropicana Field.

While the lefty got off a tremendous start, his teammates one again struggled at the plate in a 3-2 loss to Oakland. The setback resulted in a split of a four-game series with the A’s and dropped the Rays to .500 (13-13) on the season.

The Rays have scored four or fewer runs in five straight games and six of the last seven.

McClanahan’s first inning, in what was also his Trop debut, could not have gone better. He fanned leadoff batter Mark Canha on a 100.5 mph fastball, struck out Ramon Laureano on a 93.5 mph cutter and got Jed Lowrie to pop out to first baseman Mike Brosseau in foul territory.

“I was more nervous before the game than actually on the mound,” said McClanhan, who turned 24 Wednesday and had his parents and USF coach Billy Mohl looking on. “Once on the mound, things take care of themself.”

After striking out Sean Murphy and Matt Chapman to start the second inning, Mitch Moreland shot a hard grounder to third against the shift  and where third baseman Joey Wendle would have been typically positioned. Moreland pulled into second with a double and was stranded when McLanahan got Stephen Piscotty to ground out.

Meanwhile, in the bottom of the first, Austin Meadows’ broken-bat double fell between Laureano and Piscotty in right center to bring home Brandon Lowe with the game’s first run.

The Rays had an opportunity in the second inning to provide McClanahan with a little cushion, but Brandon Lowe’s liner to center with the bases loaded and two out was snagged by a diving Laureano.

Oakland tied it in the third on a run-scoring double by Laureano one batter after Brett Phillips threw out Tony Kemp at the plate. The A’s took a 2-1 lead when Chapman homered on a 1-2 pitch in the fourth with two out.

McClanahan got Moreland to ground out to end the fourth, as well as his afternoon. In his four innings of work he allowed five hits, two runs (both earned), did not walk anybody and struck out five. He threw 59 pitches with 42 for strikes.

“I made some good pitches and I made some mistakes,” said McClanahan, who made his MLB debut in Game 1 of the 2020 ALDS against the Yankees. “It was a good starting point to move forward from.”

Rays manager Kevin Cash was impressed with the outing.

“I thought he was outstanding,” he said. “Really, really impressive to watch. His stuff speaks for itself. He did a really nice job. He was super efficient with his pitches.”

Lowe’s fourth home run of the season leading off the fifth tied the score.

The A’s put the winning run across in the ninth off Diego Castillo. Jed Lowrie walked with one out and scored on a two-out double to right field by Chapman, a ball that Brett Phillips misjudged.

“I believe I should have caught it,” said Phillips, who singled, walked twice and stole two bases. “I believe I got a good jump, but I misread it.”

The Rays were retired in order in the ninth by Lou Trivino.

The Rays’ 10-game homestand resumes with a three-game weekend series against the Astros. Ryan Yarbrough gets the start Friday night.

Tom Layberger has been a sports writer and editor since 1990. Among the companies he has worked for are Beckett Publishing, The Topps Company and Comcast. In addition to being a contributing writer for sportstalkflorida.com, Tom also writes for forbes.com and Tampa Bay Business & Wealth Magazine. A native of the Philadelphia suburbs and a University of South Florida grad, Tom is a member of the Football Writers Association of America and the National Football Foundation. He resides in Tampa.