Yarbrough Sharp as Tampa Bay Rays Even Series

Rays Blue Jays

Rays 4, Blue Jays 1

The Tampa Bay Rays turned to soft-throwing southpaw Ryan Yarbrough for the middle game versus the Toronto Blue Jays. He was able to pitch into the sixth inning, allowing one run on four hits. The offense, unfortunately, was unable to provide much run support as he left the game in line for a no-decision.

Brandon Lowe finally came through in the bottom of the eighth when he laced a two-run go-ahead triple into the right-center field gap. This ended the team’s 1-for-13 with runners in scoring position through the first two games.

New Lead-Off Man

With Austin Meadows sidelined, who was going to lead-off against right handers? Ji-Man Choi was probably not the conventional choice, but that’s who was penciled in against Matt Shoemaker. What Choi lacks in speed he makes up for with his professional at-bats. He drove in the first run with a double to left-center. Don’t be surprised to see him leading off again until Meadows returns.

Yarbrough Starting Again

Despite only starting in 20 games the last two seasons, it wasn’t weird seeing him get the ball on day two. Through summer camp, he was said to be the most stretched out and ready to take on five, even six innings. While his fastball won’t often hit 90 mph, he creates weak contact by moving the ball all around the zone. When sharp, he produces a lot of ground-ball outs. Nine of his 16 outs recorded came on the ground.

Power Coming?

Through the first two games, the Rays only have one home run and five other extra-base hits. They’re not exactly doing much damage at the plate. Hitting can become contagious, so hopefully the bats start to wake up soon. With such a quick season, patience can run thin with a struggling offense.

Manager’s Gamble

Rays manager Kevin Cashdecided the game was on the line in the top of the seventh when he turned the ball over to Nick Anderson. Anderson figures to handle most of the save opportunities but the game needed saving two innings earlier than usual. With Diego Castillo on paternity leave and Jose Alvarado going the night before, Cash didn’t have much of a choice. Anderson was able to go 1 1/3 innings before Oliver Drake closed it out with a clean ninth.

Charlie Montoyo‘s decision to not go to to a left-hander in the eighth with Brandon Lowe coming to the plate was ultimately the game-changer. He stuck with right-hander Sam Gaviglio, who hung a change up to Lowe that was lined in the gap, scoring two. He had lefty specialist Brian Moran warming in the bullpen — a move he likely wishes he had made.

Up Next

The rubber match is set for Sunday at 1:10 Eastern. Blake Snell will get his first start of the season. He figures to be on a tight pitch count, so seeing him pitch into the fourth inning should be considered a huge success.

The Blue Jays will go with Thomas Hatch, who is making his big league debut. Hatch never made an appearance at AAA, so this will be new territory for the 25-year-old.

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