ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (WFLA) — Rays Manager Kevin Cash may have sumed-up what many people were thinking after that first pitch.
“I was not thinking he was going to get to the fifth inning the way it started,” Cash said.
Needless to say, Shane McClanahan’s first Opening Day start didn’t begin as smoothly as he would have hoped, hitting the first batter of the game with his first pitch of the game. But he settled-in and got his pitch count down by the third and fourth innings, took a shutout into the fifth, and really helped set the tone for the Rays in their 2-1 win over the Orioles.
“Yeah, not ideal first inning,” McClanahan said afterwards. “I need to make some better pitches, get ahead and throw a lot more strikes. But yeah, I think I felt my groove right after the second (inning), started to find the zone a lot better, started to execute pitches and good things happened.”
“Shane looked good,” Cash said. “He looked really good after the fact. The first inning (was) uncharacteristic. He hits a guy first pitch. I don’t know how many times that’s been done on Opening Day but he was able to settle-in. He drove his pitch count up a tick high, but happy with the way his stuff looked.”
“Shane came out and I think he settled-in nicely,” said Rays catcher Mike Zunino. “I think he was a little pumped-up early. For him to be able to settle in, fill the strike zone up. All four of his pitches were great today so we’ll just continue to build off that.”
Cash made the decision to pull McClanahan after facing two batters into the fifth inning, when he reach 68 pitches. He said his pitch window was about 65-75, so it was right in that planned range. McClanahan’s final line was 4.1 innings pitched, giving up just four hits, walking two, striking out seven and allowing no runs.
While the numbers were solid, the more impressive thing was the ability to bounce back after a shaky start. Cash had said Thursday that McClanahan does an incredible job being able to adjust in games and overcome any early mistakes and high pitch counts– exactly what we saw Friday.
“He’s probably beyond his years as far as a major league pitcher,” said Rays Manager Kevin Cash. “He recognizes that his stuff’s really good. Sometimes you’ve got to trust it a little bit more than others and that’s when you really have to trust it and allow the defense to play behind you and try to find a way to get efficient.”
“When you look at his career thus far,” Zunino said. “Debuting in the playoffs and coming and pitching last year for us and doing so well. But to be able to come– Opening Day starts aren’t anything to bat an eye at and I thought he handled it really well, settled-in and like you said, mature beyond his years and gave us a great start and kept us in that ballgame.”
The Rays continue their series with the Orioles Saturday afternoon at 1:10 p.m. with Drew Rasmussen scheduled to take the mound for Tampa Bay.