Lowe Homers Twice in Rays’ Win Over Jays

ST. PETERSBURG — Ryan Yarbrough battled his way through five innings and Brandon Lowe launched a pair of homers in the Rays’ 5-2 win over the Blue Jays at Tropicana Field on Saturday afternoon.

The win was the Rays’ sixth straight and they will go for a sweep of their American League East rival Sunday.

Lowe led off the first by hitting Ross Stripling’s initial pitch deep into the right field seats to give the Rays an early lead.

Lowe connected again off Stripling for a two-run shot in the third. It was Lowe’s fourth-career multi-homer game with his most recent coming May 21 against the Blue Jays in Dunedin.

“B-Lowe has been turning his season around and doing some special things going into the break,” said manager Kevin Cash.

Lowe has eight homers and 15 RBIs in his last 15 games.

Yarbrough entered Saturday’s outing with a 7-1 mark and a 2.38 ERA in 15 career appearances (seven starts) against the Blue Jays. The lefty walked two of the first three batters he faced and went to a full count on seven of the first 13 batters. Still, he managed to get through it.

“It was one of those days they really made you work for it,” said Yarbrough of the Blue Jays, whom he faced and defeated in his most recent outing on July 4. “They had a very good approach at the plate today. I could not execute my changeup early and had to rely on my cutter.”

He also got some help from Mike Zunino. After Yarbrough walked two of the first three batters in the first inning, the all-star catcher picked off Vladimir Guerrero, Jr. to end the inning. 

Yarbrough proceeded to make it through five innings and allowed only a two-run homer in the third to Marcus Semien. He threw 104 pitches in picking up the win to improve to 6-3.

“He pitched and competed,” said Cash. “I don’t think it was coming easy for him the first couple of innings. The Blue Jays were driving his pitch count up, but he battled through.”

Matt Wisler, Pete Fairbanks and Diego Castillo limited the Jays to one hit over the final four innings. Castillo picked up his 13th save.

The Rays improved to 8-4 against the Blue Jays. The series, and the traditional first half, concludes Sunday afternoon (1:10) when Rich Hill opposes Robbie Ray.

Tom Layberger has been a sports writer and editor since 1990. Among the companies he has worked for are Beckett Publishing, The Topps Company and Comcast. In addition to being a contributing writer for sportstalkflorida.com, Tom also writes for forbes.com and Tampa Bay Business & Wealth Magazine. A native of the Philadelphia suburbs and a University of South Florida grad, Tom is a member of the Football Writers Association of America and the National Football Foundation. He resides in Tampa.