NEW YORK -- Brandon Lowe found himself flirting with Rays infamy when he stepped to the plate in the second inning. Instead, the rookie turned the tables and got the party started in the Rays' 6-1 win over the Yankees on Wednesday night at Yankee Stadium.
Tampa Bay snapped a two-game losing streak while moving to 61-59 on the season. On Thursday, the Rays will have an opportunity to win their first series at Yankee Stadium since June 30-July 2, 2014.
Lowe had been hitless in his first 19 Major League at-bats, giving him the second-longest hitless streak to begin a career in team history. Of course, there really wasn't any shame there since Stephen Vogt set the standard, going 0-for-25 in 2012, and Vogt went on to become an All-Star.
Lowe killed the suspense with a well-placed blooper to left, giving him his first Major League hit and RBI while putting the Rays up, 1-0.
"Finally I can move past that huge obstacle of that first hit," Lowe said. "I can finally relax and settle in. … It was starting to get pretty frustrating, I can't lie. Baseball's a very frustrating game. But you have to stay with the plan that's really gotten you to where you are."
Just the day before, Rays manager Kevin Cash had acknowledged to reporters that Lowe obviously was pressing while trying to get untracked in the Major Leagues. Cash pointed out that Lowe had compiled a nice body of work in the Minors -- including 22 home runs in 380 at-bats combined at Double-A Montgomery and Triple-A Durham -- so he preached the virtue of patience.
Lowe struck again in the fifth with Ji-Man Choi on second base. This time Lowe singled to right, driving home his second run and pushing the Rays' lead to 6-1.
As for any lessons learned?
"Baseball's hard," Lowe said. "You're going to get out and you have to move past it and keep grinding out your at-bats."
Tampa Bay benefited from the combined pitching effort of Jake Faria, Chaz Roe, Ryan Yarbrough and Diego Castillo. Yarbrough held the Yankees scoreless on two hits through four innings of work to earn his 11th win of the season.
"I thought everybody did a really nice job," Cash said. "It was good to see Yarbs get in there and be efficient, pick his tempo back up where we saw him when he was good early on in the year."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Mallex Smith's second home run of the season, a two-run shot in the fourth, came on the first pitch he saw from Luis Cessa, giving the Rays a much-needed 5-1 cushion and chasing the Yankees' starter. While Smith is not known for his home runs, this one was well-struck, traveling a projected 375 feet, according to Statcast™, and hitting off the front of the second deck in right field.
"Second deck," Cash said. "Any time you go second deck in any ballpark, it's a big-boy home run."
PHAM TO BE ACTIVATED
Tommy Pham went 3-for-4 for Class A Short Season Hudson Valley on Wednesday night, paving the way for him to come off the disabled list (right foot fracture) for Thursday's game against the Yankees. Faria was optioned to Triple-A Durham to make room for Pham on the 25-man roster.
HE SAID IT
"That's obviously pretty cool, but hopefully I keep getting more. It's been a fun team to play on." -- Yarbrough, on logging his 11th win
MITEL REPLAY OF THE DAY
Tampa Bay challenged in the fourth inning when Ronald Torreyes hit a dribbler toward third with two outs and the bases loaded and was called safe at first, giving him an infield single and an RBI. After a replay review, the call on the field was overturned and Torreyes was called out to end the inning, thwarting a potential Yankees rally. Matt Duffy made a strong charging play on the dribbler to just barely get Torreyes at first.
Blake Snell will start Thursday afternoon when the Rays wrap up their three-game series against the Yankees in a 1:05 p.m. ET contest at Yankee Stadium. Snell was masterful in his last start, retiring each of the 15 batters he faced Friday against the Blue Jays. He'll be on a pitch count again as this is just his third start since returning from the disabled list. Right-hander Masahiro Tanaka will start for the Yankees.