Street. PETERSBURG – With only two wins out of their first eight games after the All-Star break and with their attacking once again miserably in decline, the Rays needed some good vibes.
They got them as soon as they walked in the door on Saturday morning, as most of the Rays players and some staff pulled out a Brett Phillips basketball jersey that had been handed to the fans, and began talking about hoops and exchanging barbs before heading into the field.
Who will be their start five? Who can dip? Who looked the best – and the worst – in tank top style shirts?
Add to that the coincidence of scheduling that they’ve been wearing their Devil Rays jerseys in three of their five home games this season, and they’ve had a lot to feel good about.
Even more so by the end of the afternoon, with a 6-4 win over the Guardians in front of a near-loosing crowd at least temporarily halted their latest slide, and the commercial acquisition of veteran defensive player David Peralta increased their confidence to move forward as they improved. to 54-47.
“Everyone fear,” said second baseman Brandon Lowe. “It was a very tight club. We didn’t play our greatest baseball game, I think it kind of line up perfectly. The (basketball) shirts come in, and everyone can wear the jerseys there (for practice before the game). Play in a (Devil Rays) shirt, and have fun. Some fun, untie. And we started playing some good baseball.”
They did, jumping into an early lead when Lowe hit a pair of penalty kicks by two in the first inning, then extended it to 5-1 in the fifth. Rene Pinto doubled at Taylor Walls in the second half, and Yandy Diaz hit Homer by two in the fifth against his former Cleveland teammates.
“I felt the energy (Saturday) much better, and I just wanted to maintain that pose,” Lowe said.
The Guardians closed in 5-4 in sixth when rookie Corey Kluber made his only mistake, allowing Homer three runs to All-Star Andres Gimenez. Then Phillips made a major contribution to his day, with the single on Day Eight providing an insurance boost.
Manager Kevin Cash, who has shaken up the squad a bit by moving Diaz and Lowe into No. 3 and 4, welcomed all the help considering they’ve scored one game in the previous 18 runs and 16 overall in seven games.
“We will take all the contributions now that we can get,” he said.
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Klopper did well against his former teammates, spinning the season’s best cracker ball—notably modified during an inter-start session with shooting coach Kyle Snyder—to hit a season 10 high (hitting double-digits for the second time in four seasons), and without She walks over six turns.
Cash said Klopper provided a much better pitching than his netting streak showed, with four runs and eight hits allowed.
Lowe said there was no question.
“That was so much fun to watch,” he said. “I was almost behind him (in shifts) seeing all these pitches and all the time, I couldn’t beat that either; I don’t blame you guys. It’s always fun to get out there and play behind him and see how he works and how good he is at his job.”
Rays Bullpen took it from there, Jason Adam to Colin Poche to Pete Fairbanks, who made it interesting on the ninth. Fairbanks allowed a pair of hits and needed a sport play by Walls on a slightly wide throw to second base to take out second (thanks to a replay reflex), then hit the great Jose Ramirez to finish it off.
Kluber described it as a “good team win” and a model for the kind of “complete games” they need to play given how each game seems to affect their quest for a wild card-breaking dock.
As he said, it was “a win that I think we desperately needed.”
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