A pair of aces square off when the visiting Tampa Bay Rays oppose the Cincinnati Reds on Friday night in the opener of a three-game interleague series.
Shane McClanahan (9-3, 1.74 ERA) will take the mound for the Rays, who won the final two games of their three-game series in Boston before enjoying a day off Thursday.
McClanahan leads the American League in ERA, opponents’ average (.179) and WHIP (0.81) and is tied for the AL league in strikeouts (133). He has made 10 straight starts of at least six innings, seven-plus strikeouts and fewer than three earned runs allowed — that’s the longest single-season streak in American League history and the third-longest in the majors since 1901.
Only Arizona’s Randy Johnson (14 in 1999) and Houston’s Mike Scott (12 in 1986) have had longer such streaks.
The 25-year-old left-hander has allowed 12 runs (eight earned) in his past 10 starts, covering 66 innings.
McClanahan has never faced the Reds but is 5-0 with a 2.23 ERA in seven career interleague starts, 3-0 with a 0.67 ERA in four starts vs. National League teams this season.
The Reds will counter with right-hander Luis Castillo (3-4, 3.09), making his first career appearance vs. the Rays.
Castillo, a rumored target with the trade deadline approaching, is rounding into prime form. In his past two starts, he is 1-0 with a 0.69 ERA, having struck out 17 and walked four in 13 innings.
In his past nine starts beginning May 20, Castillo is 3-3 with a 2.65 ERA, with seven quality starts in that span.
Tampa Bay will look for more offense from Josh Lowe, who made his leadoff debut on Wednesday in the Rays’ 7-1 win over the Boston Red Sox. He went 2-for-5 with two doubles, a run and an RBI.
“It’s just another day to go out there and help the team win,” Lowe said. “I feel like it’s an opportunity to go out there and kind of jump-start the offense and get something going.”
After winning five of eight from the Toronto Blue Jays and Boston on the road, the Rays take a break from the AL East and return to interleague action, where they are 10-3 this season.
“Not all games can be the same,” said Tampa Bay’s Randy Arozarena, who homered in the Wednesday victory. “We’re all doing our part to try to help the team, and we had a good series in Toronto and we had a really good series here (in Boston) and hopefully can keep it going.”
Cincinnati star second baseman Jonathan India was back in the field for the Thursday doubleheader against the Pittsburgh Pirates, and the Reds were glad to have him, as he went 4-for-8 in the two games.
India snapped a 1-1 tie in the seventh inning of the second game with an RBI single, sparking the Reds to a 5-1 win and a split. Cincinnati dropped the opener 4-2.
He left the Wednesday game against the New York Mets due to a left ankle injury after he was plunked by an 85 mph slider from lefty David Peterson.
“It was pretty swollen. Just my luck, right with this season,” India said. “It got me pretty good.”
India stayed in Wednesday’s game and ran the bases in the first inning but was lifted for pinch hitter Mike Moustakas in the second inning. X-rays on the ankle were negative.
“The ball just hit him in a bad spot,” Reds manager David Bell said. “It just missed his (leg) guard completely.”
–Field Level Media