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Rays Week

The Best Time To Watch The Rays Is After Midnight

Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

OK, I’ll come clean: Though I did it, I can’t unreservedly encourage you to do the same. This isn’t a shot against the Rays, who are clearly the best team in baseball, otherwise all of, y’know, this wouldn’t be happening. It’s mostly that you and I are no longer the spry young bucks we once were, who could go to bed at 3 a.m. and make it through the next day fine. On the other hand! Baseball is a sport suited for sleepy, wee-hours viewing, especially when watched from a location that has a storied history with MLB, and I enjoyed making up some of my sharply decreased baseball consumption due to time zone woes. So I can’t in good conscience recommend it, but recommend it I will.

Especially when the Rays’ starting pitcher is noted Ray all-star Shane McClanahan who is not the quintessential picture of a Rays-ian pitcher (that would be all of the left-handed bullpen guys who got drafted in the 59th round and somehow all throw in the high-90s), but he’s not too shabby a representative. Anyway, he’s having a pretty good season so far, leading the AL in ERA, WAR, and WHIP.

He is also, and this is very important, above average in terms of pitch tempo, or time spent between pitches. As it turns out, the way you watch baseball drastically changes what you get out of it. Sometimes you want to watch interesting baseball, but man, sometimes you just want that game to move along. Especially when it started at midnight local time! Your priorities shift, that’s all, which is why you might watch the Rays play the Red Sox rather than watch Shohei Ohtani continue to be unreal.

Hopes for a double no-hitter ended in the bottom of the third inning, when Boston pitcher Josh Winckowski (very well above average in pitch tempo!) gave up two runs, and hopes for a lowly regular single no-hitter ended in the top of the fourth, when McClanahan gave up a double to Rafael Devers. That resulted in a more interesting possibility after Francisco Mejia threw out Devers, who was attempting to make it to third on a passed ball. 

It would be way more fun, after all, if McClanahan could face the minimum without recording a no-hitter. Unfortunately, that wouldn’t happen because McClanahan would finally see a few base hits chained together against him and—gasp—gave up a run in the top of the fifth. This ultimately brought McClanahan’s ERA down to a 1.71 from its previous terrible mark of 1.73.

McClanahan managed to last 6.1 innings and 85 pitches before he got Kevin Cash–ed and pulled, which was not (not!) what I was watching baseball at midnight for, though at least now McClanahan will be well-rested for the All-Star Game.

Some other noticeable stuff: Taylor Walls hit a solo home run in the bottom of the fourth. More like Taylor Over-the-Walls, am I right? Bet he’s best buds with teammate Isaac Paredes, now Sobre-las-Paredes, who unfortunately did go 0-for-4 tonight. Sox pitcher Jake Diekman, who’s currently tied for second on 2022’s WHIP Saves leaderboard (the provisional WHIP Warrior is actually Tampa Bay Ray Ryan Yarbrough), made an appearance and unfortunately did not hit any batters, but did allow another runner to score, thanks to a lazy throw by Rob Refsnyder in right field. And that’s pretty much it! It really was the ideal midnight baseball game.

The game lasted just two hours and 30 minutes. Clearly the Rays had my study-abroad plans in mind, and for that I thank them.