McKay looks to keep Rays in wildcard spot vs. Rangers

Field Level Media

Brendan McKay takes the mound for the Tampa Bay Rays in the finale of their three-game series on Thursday night in Arlington, Tex., and he's no stranger to the Texas Rangers.

McKay pitched a perfect game through five innings in his major-league debut against the Rangers on June 29. He wrapped it up after six innings, allowing one hit, striking out seven and walking two en route to earning the win in the 5-2 victory in St. Petersburg, Fla.

The stakes have climbed higher since that June performance.

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The Rays (87-60) are in a three-team race with the Oakland A's and Cleveland Indians for the two wild-card berths from the American League.

Both the A's and Indians gained on the Rays on Wednesday, winning while Tampa Bay lost to the Rangers 10-9 to end a six-game winning streak.

With 15 games remaining on their schedule, the Rays cling to the top wild-card spot by a half game over the A's and one game over the Indians.

McKay, a two-way player who was drafted fourth overall in 2017, blanked the Toronto Blue Jays on one hit over 3 2/3 innings in his most recent start on Friday in St. Petersburg. Tampa Bay went on to win 5-0.

The Rays recently welcomed back right-hander Tyler Glasnow, who missed four months with a shoulder injury after surging to a 6-1 start with a 1.86 ERA.

McKay (2-3, 5.03 ERA) was shut down for approximately 10 days at the end of August with fatigue in his throwing shoulder, but appears primed for the stretch run as well.

"Blake and Tyler are two different things," Rays manager Kevin Cash said after McKay's last outing. "With both these guys, we're going to be doing some things that are uncharted. We're not sure, we're not 100 percent sure what's right, what's wrong, so we'll see how it goes.''

McKay struck out seven and didn't walk a batter in his most recent outing, a sign that he's getting back into a groove.

"You're getting back into (what) your normal outings and repertoire would be," he said. "Out in the zone and getting ahead, and obviously getting a lot of strikeouts and being competitive a lot more is a good sign, too."

McKay will be up against another rookie left-hander, Kolby Allard, who will be making his seventh start for the Rangers (73-74) since he was acquired from the Atlanta Braves on July 30.

Allard (4-0, 3.78 ERA) hasn't been masterful in his outings, but has found a way to win four of his six starts without a defeat.

"Finding a way to get out of jams when he gets into it," Rangers manager Chris Woodward told reporters after Allard allowed one run while scattering eight hits over 6 1/3 innings in a 3-1 win at the Baltimore Orioles last Thursday.

Allard hasn't faced a team battling for the playoffs since his debut with the Rangers on Aug. 9, when he gave up two runs and three hits in 4 2/3 innings against the Milwaukee Brewers. He avoided the decision in the team's 6-5 loss.

--Field Level Media

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