Lowe, Wendle lead Rays to series win vs. Tribe

September 2nd, 2018

CLEVELAND -- Oakland and Seattle have been battling for the American League's second wild-card spot all summer.

The Tampa Bay Rays believe they can make it a three-team race.

Brandon Lowe established single-game career highs of three hits and three RBIs, pitched five strong innings of relief and Joey Wendle was a one-man defensive highlight reel Sunday, powering the red-hot Rays to a 6-4 victory over the Indians at Progressive Field.

Tampa Bay is 11-2 since Aug. 19 and has outscored its opponents 65-36 during the stretch to move into the periphery of the playoff picture. The Rays trail the Athletics by eight games with 26 to play.

"Everyone in this clubhouse feels like we're still in the race," Yarbrough said. "And we're going for it. We all support each other."

Manager Kevin Cash has noticed, saying, "I don't think I could ask for much more from these guys. Whatever they're doing, they can keep doing. We're not playing to survive, we're playing to win."

Lowe, who made his Major League debut Aug. 5, hit a solo homer for the second consecutive day and added a two-run double in the seventh. The second baseman is ranked as the No. 10 prospect in the organization by MLB Pipeline and is one of a team-record 21 rookies to play for Tampa Bay this season.

Wendle, Tommy Pham, and C.J. Cron had two hits apiece for the Rays, who are 10 games above .500 for the first time under Cash. Wendle also made four flashy plays at third base, including three in a row in the sixth inning.

"Joey Wendle's day at the plate and defensively was something to see," Cash said. "That had to be fun as a fan to watch. He's a stud defensively and offensively, and you could hit him anywhere in the lineup."

Yarbrough earned the win and held Cleveland hitless during his first four frames. His 13 wins are tops among AL rookies, largely fueled by Tampa Bay's innovative "opener" strategy that saw him enter the game one batter into the second inning.

, normally a reliever, started and pitched one inning as the Rays used a bullpen day for the 40th time. picked up his seventh save, retiring two batters after the Indians scored three times in the ninth off .

"Yarbrough has put together a lot of good performances, but that one was right at the top," Cash said. "This was a really big win for our team. We did a lot of good things real well the whole day."

Tampa Bay center fielder appeared in his first big league game, entering as a defensive replacement in the eighth.


Pham smashed a run-scoring triple to center in the seventh to chase Carrasco. The hit extended Tampa Bay's advantage to 4-1 and ensured Carrasco would not move into a tie for the Major League lead with his 17th victory. Pham finished 2-for-5 in the win and is batting .417 during his eight-game hitting streak.


Wendle -- in his eighth start of the season at the position -- made a diving stop on a one-hopper over the bag in the third inning, then threw out the speedy All-Star shortstop. He robbed Lindor of another hit with a second diving stop, and flashed a slick barehanded play to steal a hit from as well. regularly plays third, but had the afternoon off.

"When I started playing third base, I was told to try and be like a hockey goalie and glove everything," Wendle said.


"Joey will probably be all over SportsCenter tonight." -- Yarbrough


Designated hitter has reached base in 15 consecutive starts heading into the 7:07 p.m. ET series opener Monday in Toronto at Rogers Centre. Choi matched his career high with three hits Saturday in Cleveland. Tampa Bay, which is 7-2 against the Blue Jays, has not named a starter. Right-hander (4-8, 5.27 ERA) will pitch for Toronto.