Sound the horns and light up the roof, the Tampa Bay Rays snapped their five-game losing streak on Tuesday, defeating the
Massholes Boston Red Sox, 5-1. The Rays will look for their sixth consecutive home win, and third consecutive series win, on Wednesday.
Charlie Morton got the start for the Rays and allowed just one earned run on five hits and no walks while punching out five across 5-2/3 innings. The right-hander threw 65 of 93 pitches for strikes (70% strike rate) and coaxed 14 swings and misses (22% whiff rate). Morton held Boston’s lineup in check, with the only major damage coming on a solo homer by Mitch Moreland. Most importantly, Morton’s velocity ticked up, as his fastball sat between 93 and 94 miles per hour for much of his start — an increase of one to two mph from his previous two outings — while hitting 95 mph on a few occasions. Morton was able to lower his ERA to 5.52 (4.09 FIP) across 14-2/3 total innings this season. His 7:1 K:BB suggests even better results are on the way.
In the meantime, it looked like we were in for another recent Rays game against Nathan Eovaldi — and by that, I mean similar to the five losses at the hands of Atlanta and the Orioles. Joey Wendle was the only player to reach base for Tampa Bay the first time through the order, as he tripled to centerfield with two out in the bottom of the second inning. Yet Hunter Renfroe (who would become one of the heroes of the ball-game two innings later) struck out looking at a 97 mph fastball on the inside corner of the plate.
Not content with trailing in nine consecutive games (and 10 of their last 11), Tampa Bay took the go-ahead lead in the fourth inning and never looked back. It all started with two outs — shocker, I know — when Yoshi Tsutsugo walked on a borderline full-count pitch. After Wendle singled to left, putting two runners on and moving Tsutsugo into scoring position, Renfroe stepped into the box.
On the first pitch of the at-bat, Renfroe hit a pop-up that glanced off the B-ring in foul territory, making it an unplayable/dead ball. It would be a lucky bounce for the Rays.
With a new lease on life, Renfroe lashed a two-run two-bagger to the right-center gap for a one-run lead.
Tampa Bay was able to extend the lead in the fifth inning after Michael Perez was hit by a pitch to start the frame. Austin Meadows drove a 1-0, 93 mph four-seamer to right-center for an RBI triple, scoring Perez from first just ahead of the relay throw extending the lead. Brandon Lowe followed with an RBI single to right, scoring Meadows and giving Tampa Bay a three-run advantage.
It’s been 10 months since I’ve played an actual major-league game that counts. It’s just good to be back out there with the guys and contribute like I did. That’s the cherry on top for tonight. It’s been a long, hard road this year, for everybody in general, but it’s definitely gratifying and I’m excited to keep moving forward.— Austin Meadows
After finishing the sixth inning in relief of Morton, by getting pinch-hitter Michael Chavis to bounce out to short, Aaron Loup took the mound again in the seventh and pitched a perfect frame. As Dave and Andy always declare, any lead is good, although you would prefer at least a “slam lead” … a lead of four runs or more. And Tampa Bay would get just that at the bottom of the inning.
Lowe collected his second hit of the game, a one-out single off lefty Josh Osich, then moved into third on Yandy Diaz’s base hit off the glove of Xander Bogaerts in left. Finally, Ji-Man Choi lifted a sacrifice-fly to into left, scoring Lowe and capping the scoring.
Pete Fairbanks worked around a walk and an error for a scoreless eighth, striking out J.D. Martinez and Bogaerts along the way. Yet the Rays ‘pen would face one last uprising an inning later.
Ryan Thompson took the mound in the ninth and allowed one-out singles to Christian Vazquez and Kevin Pillar. Mired in an 0-20 stretch to start the season, Jackie Bradley Jr. followed with a chopper to short and just beat out the responding throw from Wendle for an infield hit.
With the bases juiced, Kevin Cash called on Nick Anderson who promptly poured cold water on the Red Sox. Anderson struck out Jose Peraza looking at a mid-90’s fastball before getting Andrew Benintendi for a similar outcome, ending the game on an 83 mph curveball for his first save of the 2020 campaign.
The New What Next
Ryan Yarbrough (0-1, 1.54 ERA) will take the mound in the finale of this short series, pitching opposite of fellow southpaw Martín Pérez (1-1, 5.06 ERA).
Ryan Yarbrough was charged with a tough-luck loss against Atlanta on Thursday, allowing just two runs on two hits and three walks while striking out six across 6-1/3 innings. Yarbrough worked his way into a second-inning jam after hitting Adam Duvall with a pitch, then allowing Dansby Swanson to score on Marcell Ozuna’s on an RBI single. Later, he surrendered Atlanta’s final run of the night on a sac-fly to Austin Riley. Yet it was an otherwise effective performance as the southpaw threw 56 of 87 pitches for strikes (64% strike rate). Unfortunately, the offense failed to provide enough run support to get him the win. The finesse lefty is 3-1 with a 4.84 ERA in nine career outings (three starts) against Boston.
Martín Pérez allowed two runs on two hits and four walks while striking out five across 5-2/3 innings against the Mets on Thursday. Pérez was effective in all but the third inning when he walked two batters and hit another, loading the bases for Jeff McNeil, who singled into left field to drive in two. It was a bounce-back performance from Pérez after he surrendered four earned runs in his first start with Boston. The 29-year-old southpaw relies primarily on an 88 mph cutter with strong cutting action and a whiffy 83 mph circle changeup with some natural sink, while also mixing in a 91 mph sinker, a 91 mph four-seam fastball, and a 77 mph 12-6 curveball. Pérez is 0-4 with a 6.75 ERA in 10 career outings (eight starts) against Tampa Bay). Key Matchup: Mike Zunino (6-18)
You can read about the series in our preview, while the starting lineup and Noteworthiness are below.
Rays 8/5/20 Starting Lineup
- Díaz 3B
- Meadows DH
- Martínez 1B
- Renfroe RF
- Brosseau LF
- B. Lowe 2B
- Adames SS
- Zunino C
- Kiermaier CF
— Besides Meadows, Lowe and Wendle both collected multi-hit games, with Wendle going 3-for-4 on the night.