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Big Bats Help Rays Take Another In Cleveland

photo: Will Vragovic/Tampa Bay Rays

Ji-Man Choi and Joey Wendle each had four hits, with Choi finishing a triple shy of a cycle, and Austin Meadows hit a pair of two-run homers as the Tampa Bay Rays defeated the Cleveland Indians 8-2 Saturday night at Progressive Field.

Choi wasted little time giving Tampa Bay the lead, blasting an opposite field home run in the top of the first inning off Indians starter J.C. Mejia, his sixth of the year, for a 1-0 lead.

Drew Rasmussen, who opened the game for the Rays with a 1-2-3 first inning, couldn’t keep the lead in the second, as Bobby Bradley homered to left-center to tie the game.

Tampa Bay took the lead for good in the top of the third, as Brett Phillips smacked a solo homer to right-center, his fifth of the season, for a 2-1 advantage.

Choi continued the inning with his first double of the evening, and after Nelson Cruz struck out for the second out if the inning, Meadows extended the lead to 4-1 with the first of his home runs on the night.

Rasmussen worked through the third inning before Louis Head came on in relief, pitching a scoreless fourth and fifth inning.

Cleveland would get a run back against Head in the sixth, with Bradley Zimmer reaching on an infield hit and moving to third when Head threw Cesar Hernandez‘s ground ball up the first base line for a two-base error.  Kevin Cash went to the bullpen for Andrew Kittredge, who struck out Amed Rosario, but Jose Ramirez‘s ground ball allowed Zimmer to score to make it 4-2.

Tampa Bay got the run back immediately in the top oif the seventh, with Phillips drawing a leadoff walk from Mejia before he was replaced by Phil Maton, who gave up a double to Choi two batters later, scoring Phillips from first base.

Choi would extend the Rays’ lead to 6-2 in the top of the ninth, driving in Brandon Lowe with a base hit, and scoring himself on Meadows’ second two-run blast of the night.

The win allows the Rays to draw even with the Boston Red Sox in the American League East standings at 60-39.

Tampa Bay can finish off a four-game sweep with a win Sunday afternoon, as Ryan Yarbrough (6-4, 4.59 ERA) takes on Triston McKenzie (1-4, 5.91 ERA).  First pitch is scheduled for 1:10

Written By

Steve Carney is the founder and publisher of St. Pete Nine. One of the people most associated with baseball coverage in Tampa Bay, he spent 13 seasons covering the Rays for flagship radio station WDAE, first as producer of Rays Radio broadcasts, then as beat reporter beginning in 2011. He likes new analytics and aged bourbon, and is the owner of one of the ugliest knuckleballs ever witnessed by baseball scouts.

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