ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (AP) Randy Arozarena homered in the first inning as Tampa Bay set a major league record by going deep in each of its first 21 games, then hit a 10th-inning single for his fourth RBI that gave the Rays a 4-3 win over the Chicago White Sox on Saturday.
Tampa Bay is 18-3, the best start in the major leagues since the 2003 New York Yankees. The Rays are 12-0 at Tropicana Field, the best start at home since the 2009 Los Angeles Dodgers won their first 13 games.
Arozarena hit a two-run homer in first off Dylan Cease, and the Rays surpassed the previous mark of homers in the first 20 games by the 2019 Seattle Mariners. Arozarena's RBI single against Kenya Middleton put Tampa Bay ahead 3-2 in the fifth, but pinch-hitter Gavin Sheets tied the score with a eighth-inning homer against Jason Adam.
“Randy's been so clutch for us all year,” Rays starter Shane McClanahan said. “It's been fun to watch.”
With the score 3-3, in the 10th Jimmy Lambert (1-1) intentionally walked Wander Franco with one out and a runner on second, and Arozarena lined a first-pitch single to right for his team-high 22nd RBI.
“We liked the match up.” White Sox manager Pedro Grifol said. “We liked the Lambert, Arozarena match up. We were good with it.”
Garrett Cleavinger (1-0) worked a perfect 10th before a crowd of 22,333, the largest at the Trop since opening day.
Eloy Jiménez and Yasmani Grandal also homered for the White Sox, who have lost eight of 10. Chicago, at 7-14, dropped to its most game under .500 since ending the 2019 season at 72-89.
“We're playing hard, we're competing, we had a chance to win both games,” Grifol said. “We've got a good team. We're just going to keep doing what we're doing.”
The White Sox dropped the series opener 8-7 Friday night when the Rays scored three times in the ninth
McClanahan, who had won his first four starts, allowed two runs, three hits, and struck out 10 in six innings as his ERA rose from 1.57 to 1.86. He got 32 misses on 49 swings, at 65.3% the highest whiff rate for a minimum 25 swings since pitch tracking started in 2008, according to MLB Statcast.
Tampa Bay first baseman Yandy Díaz walked off the field as Adam was warming up to start the eighth and needed assistance to get down the dugout steps. The Rays announced that Díaz departed due to dehydration.
“I felt like I had a little tightness in the chest, but I think it was just more I needed some water,” Díaz said through a translator. “I was a little worried just because I've never really felt any kind of pain like that before, but I feel a lot better now.”
Díaz thinks he will be able to play on Sunday
Cease gave up three runs and six hits in four-plus innings. The 101-pitch outing ended a 24-game streak where the right-hander went five or more innings.
Jiménez homered for the second straight game, a second-inning leadoff drive to left-center estimated at 434 feet with an exit velocity of 107.5 mph.
Grandal tied it at 2 with his homer leading off the fifth. It was his first homer run since March 30, a span of 16 games.
McClanahan had not allowed a homer in his previous five starts, dating to his final outing last year.
Chicago center fielder Luis Robert Jr. struck out in all four plate appearances. and is 0 for 10 with six strikeouts in the series.
The Rays held a pregame ceremony to honor radio broadcaster Dave Wills, who died on March 5 at the age of 58. Wills, a Chicago native, was with the Rays from 2005-22 after working on White Sox broadcasts for nearly a decade.
Pete Fairbanks worked a scoreless ninth to set a Tampa Bay record with 28 consecutive scoreless innings. J.P. Howell set the standard of 27 1/3 innings in 2012.
Rays RHP Zach Eflin (2-0) is expected to return after spending 15 days on the injured list with lower back tightness to face White Sox RHP Lucas Giolito (1-1) in Sunday's series finale.
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