Rays jump Royals early to capture series

by Gary Shelton on May 28, 2021

in general

Meadows drove in four runs in the win./STEVEN MUNCIE

Friday, 4 p.m.

Yeah, this is better.

Glance across the hitting statistics of Austin Meadows, and it's easy to suggest there isn't that much different than a year ago. He hit .205 then. He's hitting .222 now. Neither number is a lot to crow about.

But the Meadows of 2021 can flex his muscles a little. In 10 more game than he played last year, Meadows has six more homers and 20 more RBI. Yeah, he's better. Just ask the Kansas City Royals, who saw Meadows drive in four runs with a triple and a home run in a 7-2 victory Thursday afternoon.

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“He’s feeling good," Rays' manager Kevin Cash said.  "You know what? He's probably hitting the ball hard enough to do more than what he has done.  There’s been a lot of balls he’s smoked right at people. We were all happy to see him finally find a hole, hit a gap and then hit one over the wall. He picked us up in a big way."

Meadows, injured much of last year when he saw his .291 average of 2019 shrink by 86 points, has hit with authority much of the year.

"He's destroying the baseball," said pitcher Shane McClanahan.

Meadows has 15 RBI in his last 12 games.

"I was seeing it well," Meadows said. "I just wanted to come out and be aggressive. (Brady) Singer made a couple of mistakes I was able to capitalize on and put the barrel on the ball and put us up."

The Rays, for the third straight day, got strong starting pitching. This time it was Shane McClanahan. McClanahan didn't go as deep as his predecessors (both Rich Hill and Tyler Glasnow went eight innings), but he threw five shutout innings of three-hit baseball.

“He's so impressive every time  he goes out there," Meadows said. "He just throws fuel and it’s fun to watch, especially with how young he is. The kid's got a bright future and I’m excited for him."

The Rays have now won 13 of their last 14 games. Over their 13-1 stretch, the Rays are outscoring their opponents, 105-48, and they are batting .269 overall and .331 with runners in scoring position.

"We’re on a good run," Cash said. "They don’t take it for granted. They know they have to come to the ballpark and work and perform. We’re going to  put ourselves in position to win games."

The Rays are off today. They will return to Tropicana Field Saturday at 1:10 p.m. to face Philadelphia. The Rays haven't announced their starter, but seem to be leaning toward Ryan Yarbrough. The Phillies will start Zack Wheeler.

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