Rays start second half with extra-inning win

by Gary Shelton on July 17, 2021

in general

Meadows drove in three runs in the Rays' win./STEVEN MUNCIE

Saturday, 4 a.m.

We have seen Austin Meadows trot after a home run.

We have seen him sprint after hitting a double into the gap.

Then there was Friday night, when Meadows lifted the Tampa Bay Rays without an extra base hit at all.

Meadows drove in three runs with two singles and a sacrifice fly, leading the Tampa Bay Rays to a 7-6 win over the Atlanta Braves at Truist Park in Atlanta. It was just the team's fourth extra-inning win in 13 games this year, and their first in their last seven.

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Meadows was solid, hitting a sacrifice fly in the seventh, singling in a run in the Rays' two-run comeback in the ninth, and singling in the winning run in the 10th.

Meadows now has 61 RBI for the season.

 “I told Austin it was one of my favorite  games of his all year," said teammate Joey Wendle, who had three hits. "We all know he can hit a home run, he can hit extra base hits. To come up with two line-drive singles in the spots he did that was a great way for him to start off the second half."

Meadows, who has been in a home run slump (two in his last 31 games). But there are other ways to help a team win.

"Motor (hitting coach Chad Mattola) kept saying 'Get Meadows to the plate, get Meadows to the plate.'" Rays' manager Kevin Cash said. "In the eighth inning. he came through. Then in the 10th, he came through again."

Meadows admits he has gotten homer happy in the past.

“I think for me, it’s not trying to do too much," Meadows said. "In the past, I’ve tried to get big. Sometimes you’re thinking homer and thinking  big swing instead of simplifying it and not trying to do too much. Just put the barrel on the ball. That’s what it came down to tonight.

The Rays started off well, taking a 2-0 lead in the second off former Rays' pitcher Charlie Morton. But the Braves homered their way back into the lead and led 6-4 with six outs to play. But Meadows singled home Brandon Lowe, and Wendle beat out an infield chopper to bring home Wander Franco with the winning run.

In the 10th, Meadows' single scored Brett Phillips for the winning run.

Reliever Pete Fairbanks got the save, his fourth. Fairbanks had a tough June with three losses in four outings, but has now has been sharp in five straight appearances.

"Pete was outstanding," Cash said. "If that was a hurdle we needed to jump, I'm glad we did. He’s so important to our bullpen. We need him pitching in some of the biggest moments of these games and he certainly came through."

The Rays play the Braves again tonight at 7:20 at Truist Park. Tampa Bay has not announced its starting pitcher, but the Braves will start Max Fried.

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