Rays Score Three In Eighth, Pick Up First Win Of 2020

Rays Lowe Delivers With Runners In Scoring Position To Break Tie In Eighth

St. Petersburg, Fla – The Tampa Bay (1-1) picked up their first victory of the season scoring three times in the eighth inning to defeat the Toronto Blue Jays 4-1 on Saturday afternoon.

Nick Anderson (1-0, 0.00 ERA) picked up the win delivering 1.1-innings of scoreless relief. Oliver Drake picked up the save working a scoreless ninth.

“Overall a good win.” Rays Manager Kevin Cash said. “There was disappointment yesterday with it being opening day and not being able to find a way to win. Tonight we bounced back and did some good things. The bats were quiet for a little while but our pitching was spectacular and the offense came through when we needed them.”

Sam Gaviglio (0-1, 81.00 ERA) takes the loss for the Blue Jays after allowing three earned runs in the 8th inning. The big blow was Brandon Lowe‘s two run triple and then Gaviglio compounded matters by balking Lowe home with the final run of the game.

Yarbrough’s Strong Outing:

Credit: Rays Baseball

Ryan Yarbrough was sharp going 5.1 scoreless innings allowing four hits while striking out one and walking one.

Yarbrough felt good in his first start of the season. “It was nice to finally get rolling.” He said. “First start of the year really feel like you’re attacking guys which for me is really the idea to stay ahead and keep guys off-balance.”

Roe Wins Lopsided Matchup:

Chaz Roe replaced Yarbrough with 1-out and Lourdes Gurriel at first with Vladimir Guerrero due up. Guerrero lined a single to right moving Guerriel into scoring position at second for the left handed hitting Travis Shaw.

Shaw versus Roe was not the optimal matchup for the Rays and prior to the 3-batter minimum role being instituted a matchup that we may not have seen. Shaw has a lifetime OPS against right hand pitching .872 while Roe has allowed left-handed batter a .809 OPS against him.

Roe struck out Shaw looking and then got Randal Grichuk to line to center to end the inning and keep the game scoreless.

Rays Take Lead In Sixth:

Michael Perez led off the bottom of the sixth inning drawing a walk off Blue Jays starter Matt Shoemaker. Perez was lifted for pinch runner Michael Brosseau. The move paid immediate dividends as Ji-Man Choi doubled to the wall in left scoring Brosseau from first giving Tampa Bay the 1-0 lead.

Fairbanks Shaky Inning, Anderson To The Rescue:

Pete Fairbanks replaced Chaz Roe in the top of the seventh and was tasked to protect the 1-0 lead. He struck out Teoscar Hernandez for the first out but then gave up the game tying solo homer to Reese McGuire. He struck out pinch hitter Joe Panik but allowed a single to Bo Bichette and walked Cavan Biggio on four pitches. Nick Anderson was called upon to keep the game tied and he did just that retiring Lourdes Gurriel Jr. on a pop out to catcher Mike Zunino.

Shoemaker Shines For Jays:

Jays starter Matt Shoemaker went six innings allowing just one earned run on three hits while striking out four and walking two.

Rays Regain Lead In Eighth:

With one out in the eighth inning Mike Zunino singled and was replaced by pinch runner Hunter Renfroe. Starting catcher Michael Perez had already been replaced by a pinch runner early in the game, but with the expanded MLB rosters in 2020 (30 people) the Rays are carrying three catchers (Kevan Smith also on roster).

Renfroe moved to second when Ji-Man Choi walked and both Renfroe and Choi scored on Bradon Lowe’s triple of Jays reliever Sam Gaviglio who balked Lowe home for the Rays fourth run. Prior to Lowe’s triple, the Rays were mired in a 1-for-15 drought with runners in scoring position and were 0-for-4 in the game.

Lowe connected on an off-speed pitch, something he’s going to have to get used to as he’s proven able to hit fastballs at the big league level. “He (Lowe) made a really good adjustment. I think he’s proven to the league in a really short amount of time that he can hit a fastball.” Kevin Cash said. “He’s probably going to have to make an adjustment this go around, this season, and be able to handle some off-speed pitches in the zone. We don’t want him to expand or be somebody different and today he did. It look like he got a change up and that he was able to put in the gap for a triple. A really really big at-bat.”

Drake Called Upon For The Save:

With Diego Castillo on the paternity list and Nick Anderson already working 1.1-innings, the Rays turned to Oliver Drake to work the 9th and try to protect a 4-1 lead.

Drake did have a pair of saves for the Rays in 2019. The first came in New York against the Yankees on July 15th. The second came on September 7th at Tropicana Field against the Blue Jays in a 5-3 Rays win.

He retired the first two batters on ground balls to first baseman Ji-Man Choi before striking out Bo Bichette to end the game.

Rays Look For Series Win On Sunday:

Tampa Bay Rays, Boston Red Sox
AP Photo/Steve Nesius

The two teams will meet up on Sunday in the rubber game of the series. Blake Snell (6-8, 4.29 in 2019) will take the ball for Tampa Bay and the Jays will counter with right hander Thomas Hatch who will be making his big league debut.