ST. PETERSBURG -- It’s been a breakout season for Nathaniel Lowe, and on Friday night, he continued his torrid second half at the expense of the team that traded him.
Lowe’s two-out, two-run opposite field homer in the third inning off Rays starter Corey Kluber ended up the difference as the Rangers pulled out a 4-3 win in their first of three games at Tropicana Field.
“It’s huge,” Lowe said. “Any time you get a guy like [Kluber] out there, you don’t get a bunch of opportunities. And thankfully, I was able to capitalize on an opportunity in the game.”
Lowe stepped up to the plate following Corey Seager, who got the Rangers on the board with a two-run double. With the game now tied, Lowe changed that in a hurry and put the Rangers up for good, drilling a fastball a Statcast-projected 403 feet into the left-field stands for his 25th homer of the year.
“I got a good pitch to get my swing off on,” Lowe said.
Since the All-Star break, Lowe leads the AL in hits (77) and is second in total bases (124). He also doesn’t mind hitting on the road, carrying a .331 average into contests away from Globe Life Field this season.
“There’s great hitters in front of and behind me, it’s easy to kind of fit into that spot in the offense,” Lowe said. “I’ve just got to do what I can.”
Lowe is no stranger to the Rays -- he was drafted by the organization in 2016 but traded to Texas in December 2020. His younger brother, Josh, is currently in the Rays organization. Lowe said that playing against his former team actually made him more nervous than anything else. It certainly didn’t show.
“We were confident the power was there,” Rays manager Kevin Cash said before Friday’s game. “He had kind of that light-tower power. But the way he’s shown adjustability, and for him to be hitting above .300, pretty remarkable. It takes time for some young hitters to kind of find their way. It feels like he has now.”
Interim manager Tony Beasley praised Lowe, Seager and the pitching staff for battling against a tough opponent with a slim margin of error. It helped that the Rangers started the series with their ace.
The club’s most reliable starter throughout the season, Martín Pérez was just that for Texas on Friday. The southpaw picked up his 12th win of the year, surrendering just three earned runs over 5 1/3 innings of work.
Pérez allowed two runs in the bottom of the second on a single and fielder’s choice, the latter just short of an inning-ending double play. But the Rangers came right back with four runs in the top half of the third, all with two outs, and the bullpen held it down.
Beasley said Pérez’s success this year has been a combination of two things: maturity and familiarity.
“He’s back home. Texas is home for him,” Beasley said. “It’s comfort. This year he’s maintained [success] for the whole season. And he did it here under the worst circumstances possible; when he was basically our only guy in the rotation that stayed healthy the whole year. He [is] a guy that every time he took the ball, we needed him to produce, and he has. He’s given us a chance to win just about every time he’s taken the baseball this year.
“He loves Texas. This is where he started. And he wants to win here and wants to be a part of that. Those are motivating factors for him, so I’m just happy he’s been able to have sustained success.”
Pérez, who was signed out of Venezuela by the Rangers in 2007 and returned in free agency this spring after three years with the Twins and Red Sox, agreed.
“It’s been good [being here],” he said, adding he also believes it’s contributed to his success. “[The Rangers] gave me a chance to play professional baseball when I was 16 years old. They took me through the process and gave me a chance to play at a big league level. To be back here is good and a great feeling.”