ST. PETERSBURG (WDAE) -- Expectations of top pitching prospect Brendan McKay were obviously high going in to his Major League debut, but it's safe to say that the left-hander lived up to the hype.
McKay worked six innings of one-hit shutout baseball, and used a two-run home run from Avisail Garcia, one of three home runs hit by Tampa Bay, to cruise to his first big league victory as the Rays defeated the Texas Rangers 5-2 Saturday at Tropicana Field.
The 23-year-old, Tampa Bay's top pick in 2017 (taken fourth overall) and the 23rd best prospect overall as ranked by MLB.com, shattered the franchise's record for consecutive batters retired to start a Major League career, as he recorded 16 straight outs before Danny Santana's single with one out in the sixth spoiled his bid for perfection. The left-hander would later walk Shin-Soo Choo with two out, but struck out Delino DeShields Jr. to end the threat and left to a standing ovation.
"The minute he showed up, he was locked in," Travis d'Arnaud, who caught McKay Saturday, said after the game. "I'm sure it was a moment he was waiting for his whole life. He was as cool as a cucumber. He knew what he needed to do. He knew what kind of pitcher he was, when I talking to him about what he liked doing. That was a lot of fun."
McKay got some run support in the bottom of the second inning, as back to back doubles by Yandy Diaz and Joey Wendle off Rangers starter Adrian Sampson gave Tampa Bay a 1-0 lead, and Avisail Garcia followed with a two-run blast that snapped an 0 for 17 skid and gave the Rays a three-run lead.
The Rays added back-to-back solo home runs by WillY Adames, his tenth of the year but just his first at home in 2019, and d'Arnaud, his fifth, each off Rangers reliever Peter Fairbanks
Colin Poche took over for McKay (1-0) in the seventh and worked a scoreless frame. Oliver Drake allowed Texas to get on the board in the eighth, as a wild pitch allowed Asdrubal Cabrera, who doubled to lead off the inning and took third on a Santana groundout, to score to cut the lead back to 5-1, and Jose Alvarado, making his first appearance with the Rays since June 1, allowed a run on a Logan Forsythe groundout, but finished off the ninth.
The win moves Tampa Bay back alone into the first Wild Card spot in the American League East, one game ahead of Texas, whose six-game winning streak came to an end.
Tampa Bay Rays (47-36) vs. Texas Rangers (46-37), 1:10 pm first pitch, with coverage on WDAE beginning at 11:00 am with The Inside Pitch.
Rays starter: LHP Blake Snell (4-7, 5.01 ERA)
Rangers starter: RHP Jesse Chavez (3-2, 2.79 ERA)