Lowe showing signs of heating up for Rays

by Gary Shelton on July 11, 2021

in general

Brandon Lowe hit two homers in victory./CHUCK MULLER

Sunday, 4 a.m.

There have been too many times this season that Brandon Lowe didn't look like a big-league hitter, too many times when he looked like an automatic out in the middle of the batting order, too many times when it seemed that he was being held up by last year's performance.

Maybe, just maybe, that is changing.

Lowe hit two home runs -- his 19th and 20th of the season -- on Saturday afternoon to lead the Rays to a 5-2 victory over Toronto, the Rays' sixth straight victory. Finally, Lowe is looking like he did in last year's regular season.

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Yeah, you can suggest that it's about time. Going into Saturday's game, Lowe had the third-lowest batting average and the third-most strikeouts in the American League. True, he was starting to find his power stroke -- he now has eight homers in last 15 games, but he is still hitting just .206.

"I feel good," Lowe said. "I feel like the swing is there. Hopefully, the average will start climbing pretty soon."

Lowe hit a solo homer on the first pitch in the bottom of the first. Mike Zunino later came back to his his 19th homer of the year before Lowe's second homer gave him the team lead with 20.

"A little part of me was a little upset to be honest," Lowe said with a grin. "I had the lead for all of five minutes and he took it back. It feels good to be able to have the friendly competition on the team."

For whatever reason, Rays' manager Kevin Cash is glad to see Lowe swinging a better bat.

“Probably a little bit of everything," Cash said, asked if Lowe's improvement was mental or physical. "Staying confident. He knows he’s a good player. We certainly know he’s a good player and that he can help us. We’ve seen in the past that when he gets hot, balls are hitting off the wall and over the wall at a pretty good rate. That’s what we’re seeing right how. It’s easy to get frustrated, and it’s fair to get frustrated. He’s had those moments at different parts of the season, but give him credit for staying after it and keeping his head above water and staying confident to allow himself to do this."

Starting pitcher Ryan Yarbrough admitted his change-up wasn't in sync early in the game, but he got through five innings and all, allowed just two earned runs. The bullpen, once again, shut down Toronto.

"He pitched and competed with what he had," Cash said. "I don’t think it was coming easy for him in the first couple  of innings. The Blue Jays were really driving the count up, but give Yarbs a lot of credit for fighting through some of that stuff and limiting them to a two-run homer from a really good player (Marcus Semien).

The Rays, 53-36, continue to trail Boston in the American League East.  They play Toronto at Tropicana Field today in their final game before the All-Star break. Rich Hill will start for the Rays against Toronto's Robbie Ray in a 1:10 p.m. game.

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