street. PETERSBURG – The first nine wins turned out to be fairly easy, as the Rays opened the season by defeating the Tigers, Nationals, and A’s by at least four runs in each game.
The Rays were in for a different kind of test Monday night, a typical tense, tight battle with American League East rival Boston.
“It definitely felt like a Rays-Red Sox game,” said manager Kevin Cash.
Brandon Lowe—in what he describes as one of the best batters of his stellar career—crushed an eighth-inning homer for a 1-0 win that extended the Rays’ franchise-best record, and lead MLB to 10-0.
“It was weird,” Lowe said. “Looking at the scoreboard—the Red Sox are obviously a good team—it was a little weird. Usually (by) the seventh inning, we’d do six batters or whatnot. So that was definitely a little change.
“But it’s something that was nice to have. We’re not going to win every game 10-0. We’re going to play 1-0 games and things like that. So it was good. It’s good to get that out of the way. And it’s good to play those games again.”
The Rays are the first major league team to win their first top 10 since 1987, which shares with the Braves the 1982 major league record of 13.
Only four other teams have started the season with the most wins: the 1981 Oakland A’s have 11, while the 1966 Indians, 1962 Pirates, and 1955 Dodgers have ten.
Lowe’s homer followed reliever Colin Poche’s dramatic escape from an eighth-inning, bases-filled mess he made by allowing two walks around one, and hit a dangerous Rafael Devers, who looked at Strike 3 fastball, to drop to 0-for-8 against a left-footed Rays. Poche reacted emotionally before the boisterous crowd of 13,470 at Tropicana Field.
“The guy works himself up from there, especially with the crowd we had, he energizes anyone. It really gets everyone going,” Lowe said. “I think he definitely hit the bottom half of the inning.”
Batting with one out, Lowe fought through nine pitches from Chris Martin, including one he committed painfully off his right leg, before driving the ball over the right-center fence.
“Honestly, it hurts,” Lowe said. “I don’t know how I can get him between protective guards, but it’s cool. (It’s) painful at the moment, but I think getting straight back into it and having to take a swing kind of pulled me in.”
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A swing he took, smashing the fastball 404 feet over the fence, marking his third straight homer and the Red Sox’ first of the season.
“Definitely one of the best beaters I think I’ve ever had,” Lowe said. “It was a really good run. He had some really good stuff on the mound. Really, after a few pitches, I kind of said to myself, ‘I don’t need to hit a homer. I don’t need to hit a homer. You’ve got Randy (Aruzzarina) Wander (Franco) and guys. others behind you.
“Just find a keg, try the bat and things will take care of themselves. And it turns out pretty well.”
This was the case throughout the club. The Rays put together an impressive and historic outing on the mound—a third consecutive shutout for the first time in their 26 seasons—with five working pitchers.
Jalen Bix opened the first two innings. Josh Fleming modified his April 4 outing in Washington with four dominant rounds (one hit, five Ks). Garrett Clevinger did one. Bush got himself into trouble. And Pete Fairbanks, after teasing his teammates for his lack of action with all the easy wins, converted his first save of the season.
“Yeah, a lot of people were saying he was on vacation and they were starting to call him Pete Rarebanks,” Butch said. “But he looked so good there.”
The win ended the Rays’ winning streak of at least four home runs in nine games, second only to the 1884 St. Louis Maroons. The Rays improved their run differential to plus-58, the best by 10 games in the modern era (since 1901), trailing the Maroons and the 1884 New York Gothams.
More relevant, they have extended their impressive start.
“It’s not wasted on anyone, but it doesn’t add any pressure on anyone,” Lowe said. “We’ve done this before (we won 11 in a row in May 2021). It’s great when we do it and how we do it.”
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