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Meadows leads Rays, who keep WC hopes alive

September 21, 2018

TORONTO -- Austin Meadows showed a little bit of what has made him one of baseball's top prospects Friday night.The 23-year-old outfielder replaced an injured Ji-Man Choi in the sixth inning and singled in his first at-bat, cashing in a pair of runs, before stealing second and scoring later in

TORONTO -- Austin Meadows showed a little bit of what has made him one of baseball's top prospects Friday night.
The 23-year-old outfielder replaced an injured Ji-Man Choi in the sixth inning and singled in his first at-bat, cashing in a pair of runs, before stealing second and scoring later in the inning. It was all part of a four-run sixth inning in the Rays' 11-3 victory over the Blue Jays at Rogers Centre.
In the seventh inning, Meadows added another RBI single, cashing in Mallex Smith from second when a ground ball found its way through the left side of the infield. He came around to score two batters later when Joey Wendle doubled to center.

"I felt pretty good up in the box [last night]," Meadows said. "I thought I felt good as well tonight. ... I was able to pull out three hits right there and help the team."
Meadows finished the night 3-for-3 with a pair of singles and a one-out double in the ninth.
"That was exciting," Rays manager Kevin Cash said. "With Austin to be able to come in there and get big hits, it's really, really nice."
The Rays acquired Meadows from Pittsburgh along with right-hander Tyler Glasnow as part of the trade for Chris Archer at the July 31 non-waiver Trade Deadline. He entered the 2018 season ranked as the No. 48 overall prospect, according to MLB Pipeline, and the top prospect in the Pirates' organization.
"I played against him earlier in the season when he was with Pittsburgh and he was on fire," outfielder Tommy Pham said. "It seemed like we couldn't get him out, just driving the ball. He has a good eye, too, from what I remember. He's a tough out."
Pham continued to prove why he deserves a spot in the lineup. He pushed his on-base streak to 23 games with a 2-for-3 night, including a pair of walks, two RBIs and a run scored.

"I've been driving the ball," Pham said. "There haven't been as many ground balls as earlier in the season. I think that's key for me, using the whole field, because I hit the ball hard, and when I use the whole field, it's kind of hard to defend."
Smith reached base three times, scoring two runs and cashing in one. He was removed in the seventh inning with an ankle injury that he sustained running into the outfield wall to make a catch in the fifth. The defensive change was a precautionary measure and Cash expects Smith to be in the lineup for Saturday's game.

The Rays remained 6 1/2 games back of the second American League Wild Card spot after the A's defeated the Twins later on Friday night.
Diego Castillo opened the game for the Rays. He allowed a solo homer to Lourdes Gurriel Jr. and finished the night with one inning pitched and just one hit allowed.

Castillo turned the ball over to Jalen Beeks, who went three innings, allowing two runs on a pair of solo homers. Going into Friday night, Beeks had pitched to a 2.36 ERA over his last nine appearances.
Blue Jays starter Sean Reid-Foley pitched four-plus innings, surrendering four runs (two earned) and was removed after allowing a pair of extra-base hits to lead off the fifth inning.
"We got a good pitching performance from a bunch of people," Cash said. "And the offense was just relentless."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Four-run sixth: Up by one entering the sixth, the Rays began to pile it on against the Blue Jays' bullpen. Matt Duffy hit a one-out single to load the bases before Meadows hit his two-run single. Pham followed with a sac fly, then two batters later, Willy Adames added an RBI single to score Meadows.

Three-run seventh: After a Meadows single scored the first run of the seventh, Wendle doubled to center to drive home a run. It was Wendle's 30th double of the season and part of a 1-for-4 night.

SOUND SMART
Pham has increased his average launch angle by 2.9 degrees since joining the Rays on July 31, according to Statcast™. Coming into Friday night, it had led to 10.6 percent fewer ground balls and an OPS 286 points higher than the .730 he posted with St. Louis this season.
YOU GOTTA SEE THIS
Clinging to a one run lead in the fifth inning, Smith ran hard into the right-field wall to take away an extra base hit from Devon Travis. Smith lay on the ground for a few seconds, but popped back up to toss the ball back into the infield.

UP NEXT
Glasnow (2-6, 4.22 ERA) returns to Rogers Centre to take on the Blue Jays at 4:07 p.m. ET on Saturday after a disastrous seven-run, two-thirds inning performance in his last start against Toronto. Aside from that start, Glasnow has pitched well as of late, recording quality starts in three of his last four starts. Thomas Pannone (3-1, 3.77) takes the mound for his first career start against the Rays. He's allowed two runs over 2 2/3 innings pitched in relief against Tampa this year.

Aaron Rose is a reporter for MLB.com based in Toronto.