ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (AP)Brandon Lowe’s two-run triple snapped an eighth-inning tie and sent the Tampa Bay Rays over the Toronto Blue Jays 4-1 on Saturday.
Lowe, batted hit .270 with 17 homers and 51 RBIs in 82 games as a first-time AL All-Star in 2019, hit a drive into the gap in right-center field off reliever Sam Gaviglio (0-1). It was especially sweet for the 26-year-old second baseman because he previously was 0 for 9 against the right-hander.
”I’m 1 for 1 this year,” Lowe said. ”I could care less about last year.”
Gaviglio later balked, allowing Lowe to score the third run of the inning.
”He didn’t have it. He wasn’t locating stuff,” Blue Jays manager Charlie Montoyo said. ”He’s usually very good. He just didn’t locate his pitches, and he paid the price.”
Rays manager Kevin Cash said Lowe, an exceptional fastball hitter, made a nice adjustment to deliver the game-winner.
”He’s proven in a short amount of time he can hit a fastball. He’s probably going to have to make some adjustments now and be able to handle some off-speed pitches,” Cash said. ”Today, he did. It looked like he got a changeup just enough up that he was able to put it in the gap.”
Ji-Man Choi drove in Tampa Bay’s other run with a sixth-inning double off Matt Shoemaker, who made his first start for the Blue Jays since injuring his left knee in April 2019. The right-hander yielded one run and three hits in six innings.
”It’s exciting to say the least. We’re finally back to baseball,” Shoemaker said. ”Obviously, it’s different circumstances but building back up, getting ready and finally getting back out there, where we all want to be.”
Toronto tied it at 1 on Reese McGuire’s homer off right-hander Pete Fairbanks in the seventh.
Nick Anderson (1-0), the third of four Rays pitchers who followed starter Ryan Yarbrough, retired four of five batters he faced to get the win. Oliver Drake worked a perfect ninth for the save.
Toronto’s Cavan Biggio, whose three-run homer was the big blow in the Blue Jays’ 6-4 win on opening day, was 2 for 3 with a walk, extending his on-base streak to 31 consecutive games, the longest active stretch in the majors.
Rays OF Austin Meadows rejoined the team for workouts for the first time since testing positive for the coronavirus and missing most of summer camp before being placed on the injured list. A first-time All-Star in 2019, when he batted .291 with a team-leading 33 homers and 89 RBIs, Meadows worked out in Port Charlotte, Florida, on Saturday. There’s no timetable to rejoin the active roster.
”I don’t have a time frame when he’ll be back, whether it’s three days, two weeks, I really have no idea,” manager Kevin Cash said.
Shoemaker made his first start for Toronto since injuring his left knee in a rundown at Oakland on April 20, 2019. He underwent surgery 10 days later and missed the remainder of the season while recovering from ACL reconstruction and medial meniscus repair. He was 3-0 with a 1.57 ERA in five starts.
When Tampa’s Yoshi Tsutsugo homered for his first major league hit in Friday’s 6-4 loss to the Blue Jays, he became the sixth Japanese-born player homer in his MLB debut. The others are Kenta Maeda (2016), Kosuke Fukudome (2008), Kenji Johjima (2006), Kazuo Matsui (2004) and Keith McDonald (2000).
Lefty Blake Snell, the 2018 AL Cy Young winner, starts Sunday’s series finale for the Rays. Rookie right-hander Thomas Hatch will make his major league debut for the Blue Jays. Snell is looking to rebound after going 6-8 with a 4.29 ERA in 23 starts last season.
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