ST. PETERSBURG — Welcome back Austin Meadows.
The 25-year-old, who missed the Rays’ first 10 games and was placed on the injured list July 16 due to Covid-19, sparked the offense by banging out two hits and driving in a run in the Rays’ 5-1 win over Boston at Tropicana Field on Tuesday night.
The victory enabled the Rays (5-6) to snap a five-game losing streak.
“I was just trying to continue with what I did last year,” said Meadows, whose fifth-inning triple drove home Michael Perez to give the Rays a 3-1 lead. “It’s been about 10 months since I played an actual Major League Baseball game and it was good to be back with the guys and contribute.”
Meadows, who was in the leadoff spot and playing left field, also singled in the third inning and went 2-for-4 on the evening.
“He looked like he didn’t miss a beat,” said manager Kevin Cash. “We needed somebody to get us out of this funk and he did that. He looked pretty in sync, which was really, really good to see.”
Charlie Morton picked up his first win of the season. He allowed only a solo homer in the second inning to Mitch Moreland. The veteran right-hander worked 5 ⅔ innings and threw 93 pitches.
“My goal and hope was to pretty much get my pitch count up and I was able to do that tonight,” he said, after throwing 65 of his 93 pitches for strikes and not walking a single batter. “It is nice to have Austin back and put one in the win column against a really good team, a division opponent. Hopefully, we can take this into (Wednesday) and get something going.”
Hunter Renfroe’s two-run double to right-center in the fourth off Red Sox starter and former Ray, Nathan Eovaldi, gave the Rays a 2-1 run lead after they had scored just one run in their previous 14 innings.
With two out, Yoshi Tsutsugo got things started by fouling off three pitches before drawing a walk. Joey Wendle singled, the second of his three hits on a night when he started at short, to set the stage for Renfroe.
Tsutsugo went 0-for-3 dropping his average to .182, but it was a key walk to spark the rally.
“It was a big at-bat,” said Cash. “Day by day he has more confidence in his at-bats and all the work that he is doing.”
Things got a little dicey in the ninth inning. Three straight singles with one out off Ryan Thompson loaded the bases and prompted Cash to summon Nick Anderson to close things out. The right-hander did just that by striking out Jose Perza and Andrew Benintendi (both looking) to record his first save as a member of the Rays.
“With the game on the line right there, we thought Nick was best equipped to get Peraza and Benintendi,” said Cash.
The Rays will complete their two-game series against the Red Sox on Wednesday night before hosting the Yankees in a four-game weekend series.