Randy Arozarena delivers as Rays leave White Sox again

ST. PETERSBURG — Saturday’s game took a strange turn for the Rays early in the eighth inning.

First, Yandy Diaz, who had three hits and scored two of his first three runs, left the field during warm-ups and had to be helped into the dugout as he left the game, dealt for what which the team later characterized as dehydration. Four pitches later, reliever Jason Adam gave up a home run to Gavin Sheets that erased their lead.

But it all went well in the end, in front of a crowd of 22,333 at Tropicana Field, as the Rays edged out the White Sox for the second straight day with a 4-3 win.

Randy Arozarena capped off a big day by entering Vidal Brujan, who was a pinch runner and started the run second. After Isaac Paredes got airborne, the Sox intentionally walked Wander Franco for Jimmy Lambert to face Arozarena, and it failed miserably.

With an 18-3 MLB lead, the Rays tied the second-best 21-game start in modern-era history. Only three teams started better: the 1984 Tigers, 1955 Dodgers and 1911 Tigers, all of which were 19-2. The Rays joined six other teams at 18-3: the 2003 Yankees, 1987 Brewers, 1981 A’s, 1946 Red Sox, 1938 Giants and 1918 Giants.

Rays first baseman Yandy Diaz hits a single in the fifth inning.
Rays first baseman Yandy Diaz hits a single in the fifth inning. (JEFFEREE WOO | Times)

The Rays took an early lead and some records. Diaz laced a first single, then with one out, Arozarena drove a pitch from Dylan Cease to the left center field wall.

This extended the Rays’ homerun streak to all 21 games, surpassing the 2019 Mariners’ starting season 20 record. Going back to the last game of last season, the Rays also set a franchise record in going far in 22 straight games.

Shane McClanahan provided another strong start in six innings for the Rays, striking out a season-high 10 and allowing just three hits. The problem was that two were solo homers – a huge 434-foot left shot by Eloy Jimenez leading the second, and another by Yasmani Grandal to open the fifth.

The Rays rallied to take the lead on their side of the fifth.

Diaz kicked them off with a lead single, and a well-executed hit-and-run single from Franco put the riders on the corners and knocked out Cease. After Franco was caught stealing, Arozarena welcomed reliever Keynan Middleton by bouncing a single down the left side to make it 3-2.

The Sox tied the Sheets home run.

Pete Fairbanks worked the ninth and in doing so broke JP Howell’s team record for consecutive scoreless innings as he now has 28. Howell had 27 1/3 in 2012.

This story will be updated.

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