By Jack Baer
For the first time in MLB history, the Rays fielded a lineup comprised entirely of Latin American players on Thursday against the Toronto Blue Jays, the team announced. Every player involved wore No. 21.
The historic lineup:
Yandy Díaz 3B (Cuba)
Randy Arozarena RF (Cuba)
Wander Franco SS (Dominican Republic)
Harold Ramirez 1B (Colombia)
Manuel Margot DH (Dominican Republic)
David Peralta LF (Venezuela)
Isaac Paredes 2B (Mexico)
René Pinto C (Venezuela)
José Siri CF (Dominican Republic)
According to MLB.com, the historic nature of the lineup wasn’t intentional. Rays manager Kevin Cash said he wanted to stack the lineup with right-handers against Blue Jays starter Kevin Gausman and his highly effective splitter.
The move worked, as Gausman allowed five earned runs in seven innings of work. The lineup card is now reportedly headed to the National Baseball Hall of Fame.
It’s worth noting that the Rays’ claim hinges on not counting the pitcher in the lineup, as Cy Young candidate Shane McClanahan started on the mound for the team.
Roberto Clemente Day was first observed by MLB in 2002 as a way to honor the first Latin American player to be elected to the Hall of Fame, who tragically died in 1972 while flying emergency supplies to Nicaragua.
Big win for Rays in more ways than 1
Either way, the lineup had a good enough energy to blow out the Blue Jays 11-0 in a massively important series for the American League wild-card standings. Díaz and Paredes both homered while Arozarena went 3-for-5 with a double.
McClanahan threw five scoreless innings in his return from an injured list stint due to a shoulder impingement.
After Thursday’s win, the Rays sit only a half-game back of the Jays and Seattle Mariners for the first and second AL wild-card spots and 4.5 games ahead of the Baltimore Orioles for the third and final slot.