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Lowe Powers Rays To Win In Opener Over Orioles

photo: Will Vragovic/Tampa Bay Rays

Brandon Lowe came into Friday night’s game with just four hits in 63 at-bats against left-handed pitch this season, but the Tampa Bay Rays second baseman would make sure his fifth hit came at an opportune time.

Lowe’s eleventh home run of the season turned around a 2-1 deficit, and helped lead the Rays to a 4-2 win over the Baltimore Orioles Friday evening at Tropicana Field.

The second baseman struck out on three pitches against Orioles starter Keegan Akin in the second, and had fallen behind 1-2 in his second at-bat against the southpaw after Mike Brosseau‘s base hit moved Randy Arozarena to third base as the tying run, but he got a fastball in his swing plane and nearly put the baseball in the touch tank in the deepest part of right-center for his 11th home run of the season.

Baltimore initially got out to a 2-0 lead after Pat Valaika reached on an error by Rays starter Ryan Yarbrough missing the first base bag on a ground ball — a play that was upheld on replay despite views appearing to show that Yarbrough did touch the bag before Valaika made contact — and Trey Mancini hitting his 12th home run of the year two batters later.

Those two unearned runs would be all the Orioles would get off Yarbrough (4-3), who worked through the sixth to earn his second straight win as a starter.

The Rays got their first run in the third, as Mike Zunino started the inning with back-to-back hits.  A wild pitch allowed Zunino to move to third base, and Manuel Margot‘s fielder’s choice grounder allowed the catcher to score to cut the deficit to 2-1.

Kiermaier and Margot would combine for some insurance in the seventh, as the center fielder led off the inning against former Ray Cole Sulser by doubling away from the infield shift, and scoring on a base hit by the right fielder.

Tampa Bay got scoreless innings of relief from Andrew Kittredge, J.P. Feyereisen and Pete Fairbanks, with the latter earning his second save of the year.

The victory allows Tampa Bay to remain a game ahead of the Boston Red Sox for the lead in the American League East, and become the first team in Major League Baseball to reach the 40-win plateau.

The Rays can secure a series win with a victory in Saturday’s middle game.  Rich Hill (5-2, 3.05 ERA) will get the start, taking on Jorge Lopez (2-6, 5.30 ERA). First pitch is scheduled for 4:10.

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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